#14 Grigory Denisenko, C, Russia (12/10/2017)

vs. Canada East (WJAC)


2018 NHL Draft prospect Grigory Denisenko had 1G-2A-3PTS vs. Canada East (WJAC) and earned it through impressive displays shift after shift. On this play, he shows great speed through the neutral zone to spring a teammate in the O zone. Then, he shows tenacity to strip steal and re-enter the zone again. He doesn’t pick the best option, but he sure put in the work to not criticize him too much on this shift.


Here you can see him deke the pants off an opponent, register a scoring chance off the post, follow the play intently for a takeaway keeping play alive for extended possession, then caps off the shift by sneaking in behind the defense and showing how dangerous he is given a step. He scores driving to the net.


Denisenko provides support along the right wall defensively, breaks out, stays available, and then proceeds to enact a sweet backhand drop pass give and go for the assist through a crowd on the goal.

#24 Ty Smith, D, Spokane Chiefs (10/18/17)

vs. Moose Jaw


Stud 2018 NHL Draft eligible defenseman Ty Smith plays the two on one perfectly and has a very clean break up on the puck that sends it right to trailing teammate JAD.


This is a clip you will want to bookmark – it’s Smith from start to finish. Off the face-off he picks up his streaking check with focus, sticks to him and denies him the puck and clears it. Then, he follows up the play through the neutral and intercepts the puck sidestepping a teammate while delivering a tape pass for the ensuing scoring chance.


Smith takes a pass in stride despite being a little off target, enters the offensive zone, and dishes a backhand pass. Backing up into the defensive zone, you can see his skating command as his mobility in reverse is super fluid and smooth. He picks up the puck and uses his great lateral explosiveness with the puck to evade the tight check and hit his winger with a zone exiting pass.


Smith spin cuts and the forechecker blows a tire, and you see him wheel through the neutral zone. He dumps the puck in as he gets converged on, which is fine considering circumstance though not ideal with his skillset. You also see him rush the follow-up right board sequence, where he could pull out with the puck and avoid the stoppage in play.


This is a complex storyboard for the fact that you see highlights, errors, and negative yet insignificant result. On one hand you don’t like to see that solo offensive zone giveaway turned into a rush against, but it did go offside. On the other, you see lights out puck rushing ability where he splits not ONE pair, but TWO pairs of attackers (then loses the puck to the D). This is one of those high hockey sense kids that you let go, and let him try these unbelievable plays because it doesn’t really impact his overall decision making if the result isn’t perfect now.


Intentionally or not, it’s impressive how close to the blueline he nonchalantly walks it giving him extra space to operate. His pass is butter, but his shot mechanic’s a little slow/delayed and light. Once the play is sent the other way, he shows some more reliability as a supreme breakout defender.

#11 Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane (10/18/2017)

vs. Moose Jaw (WHL)


This is a complex clip that encapsulates Los Angeles Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan’ game: efficiently skilled two-way center with attacking mentality and some offensive limitation creatively. As a center, he’s naturally going to swoop through the middle and present as a pass option for his D to break the puck out. However, the D unit has a ton of confidence in JAD, and he was noticeably reliable here throughout the game. He transitions through the neutral zone with a good handle, but loses the puck when the attack converges on him. Can’t ding him there really, but there were other opportunities in one-on-one situations where he wasn’t able to escape either so worth monitoring development there. Despite losing the puck, you see his competitiveness when he gets it right back, grinds up the boards through a check, and hits his point man with a pass.


JAD starts the play causing yet another turnover, this time in the neutral zone, and takes off as F2. They eventually lose the puck, but he circles back and takes a stretch pass into a breakaway scenario. He almost splits the D, but jumps to the outside and loses the handle where he ends corralling it around the boards to the other side of the ice. Without the puck, you see his hockey sense to support the play and find a pocket – that is until he can’t restrain himself from giving the closest PK’er a light, distracting push!


You’re looking at a pro play right here with the puck behind the net. JAD battles behind the cage where he emerges with possession, protects the puck well giving him space to get the pass off the boards to the point man. His hard work results in a teammate’s center point shot, as well as another’s rebound shot. This screams NHL handiwork.

#18 Filip Kral, D, Spokane (10/18/2017)

vs. Moose Jaw (WHL)


2018 NHL Draft prospect Filip Kral slips two checks as the defender who initiated a clean, well executed breakout. On the missed pass reception, you see his feet limit him ever so slightly despite the safe dump in.


Smooth handle, smooth delivery cross ice. Might not be the best pure skater out there, but he looks very confident on the move with the puck (and time).


Kral eventually finds himself in a tenuous spot in the L corner boards after fellow 2018 draft eligible Luka Burzan tracks him down. The play is progressed out of the zone only because of his D partner, who he’s lucky circles behind their net and provides support in the right spot. This clip shows slight shortcoming in terms of anticipation as well as, again, skating ability.


Right off of the faceoff, Kral takes off with the puck and shows a tight grip on it as he goes exit to entry. Here he is able to create a scoring chance on his own and show desire offensively.


Kral shows the same exiting burst only this time on the PK where he kills off time. He has a knack for pouncing on loose puck opportunities and translating them into plus plays because of his hands.

2018 NHL Draft Ranking – October Final

  1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frölunda HC (SHL)
  2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)
  3. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston University (NCAA)
  4. Filip Zadina, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
  5. Adam Boqvist, D, Brynäs IF (SUPERELIT)
  6. Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL)
  7. Rasmus Kupari, C, Oulun Kärpät (LIIGA)
  8. Joel Farabee, LW, NTDP U18 (USDP)
  9. Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph (OHL)
  10. Quinton Hughes, D, Michigan (NCAA)
  11. Oliver Wahlstrom, C, NTDP U18 (USDP)
  12. Joe Veleno, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
  13. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Ässät (LIIGA)
  14. Bode Wilde, D, NTDP U18 (USDP)
  15. Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
  16. Isac Lundeström, C, Luleå HF (SHL)
  17. Jack McBain, C, Toronto (OJHL)
  18. Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
  19. Jacob Olofsson, C, Timrå IK (ALLSVENSKAN)
  20. Akil Thomas, RW, Niagara (OHL)
  21. Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
  22. Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge (WHL)
  23. Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
  24. Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
  25. Allan McShane, C, Oshawa (OHL)
  26. Jesse Ylönen, RW, Espoo (MESTIS)
  27. Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (QMJHL)
  28. Vitali Kravtsov, LW, Traktor (KHL)
  29. Benoit Olivier-Groulx, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
  30. K’Andre Miller, D, NTDP U18 (USDP)
  31. Nando Eggenberger, RW, HC Davos (NLA)

2014 NHL Draft Re-Rank [Draft+3]

It is often said that it takes five years to truly grade a draft and properly assess if a prospect has reached his potential or not. Each year I like to re-rank the drafts in an exercise that forces a re-evaluation of player development along the way from each draft year I have produced a draft guide. 2014 was the inaugural draft guide for DraftBuzz Hockey, so I am building out a refreshed top 100 from that draft class. Each year the list gets harder to grade, and this one has been the hardest as more and more prospects land with split pro time in the NHL/AHL on top of others playing in Europe and some still with junior experience only. NHL production is still King, with the assessment being a hybrid of production vs. upside, and identifying how much of that upside has been realized. At this point, selection begins to have less importance though greater weight may be given to a higher pick in a close call. Consider these ranks fluid, and likely in ranges. For instance, Nylander and Ehlers is a toss up for me. In a perfect world, this list is published prior to the start of the season so hot 2017-2018 starts (small sample) will not have a huge effect on the list.

Here is the top 50:

Rank – Player – Position – Team – Selected

  1. Leon Draisaitl, C, EDM, 3
  2. David Pastrnak, RW, BOS, 25
  3. William Nylander, C/RW, TOR, 8
  4. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, WPG, 9
  5. Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA, 1
  6. Dylan Larkin, C, DET, 15
  7. Sam Reinhart, C, BUF, 2
  8. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, NSH, 112
  9. Robby Fabbri, C, STL, 21
  10. Brayden Point, C, TBL, 79
  11. Sam Bennett, C, CGY, 4
  12. Nick Schmaltz, C, CHI, 20
  13. Christian Dvorak, C, ARI, 58
  14. Kevin Fiala, LW, NSH, 11
  15. Nick Ritchie, LW, ANA, 10
  16. Brendan Perlini, LW, ARI, 12
  17. Jakub Vrana, L/RW, WSH, 13
  18. Jake Virtanen, RW, VAN, 6
  19. Julius Honka, D, DAL, 14
  20. Michael Dal Colle, LW, NYI, 5
  21. Anthony DeAngelo, D, NYR, 19
  22. Josh Ho-Sang, RW, NYI, 28
  23. Jared McCann, C, FLA, 24
  24. Kevin Labanc, RW, SJS, 171
  25. Ivan Barbashev, C, STL, 33
  26. Brandon Montour, D, ANA, 55
  27. Ondrej Kase, C, ANA, 205
  28. Nikolay Goldobin, LW, VAN, 27
  29. Sonny Milano, LW, CBJ, 16
  30. Adrian Kempe, LW, LAK, 29
  31. Travis Sanheim, D, PHI, 17
  32. Kasperi Kapanen, RW, TOR, 22
  33. Alex Tuch, RW, VGK, 18
  34. Vladislav Kamenev, C, NSH, 42
  35. John Quenneville, C, NJD, 30
  36. Danton Heinen, LW, BOS, 116
  37. Nikita Scherbak, RW, MTL, 26
  38. Gustav Forsling, D, CHI, 126
  39. Igor Shestyorkin, G, NYR, 118
  40. Anders Bjork, LW, BOS, 146
  41. Nikita Tryamkin, D, VAN, 66
  42. Haydn Fleury, D, CAR, 7
  43. Devon Toews, D, NYI, 108
  44. Oskar Lindblom, LW, PHI, 138
  45. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI, 78
  46. Kyle Wood, D, ARI, 84
  47. Lucas Wallmark, C, CAR, 97
  48. Michael Amadio, C, LAK, 90
  49. Samuel Blais, C, STL, 176
  50. Thatcher Demko, G, VAN, 36

51-100 to follow…

#14 Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (9/30/17)

vs. Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)


Rangy 2018 NHL Draft defensive prospect Jared McIsaac shows he has no shortage of confidence in his ability to make opponents miss. Scooping up the puck behind his net, he uses a very slick delay on the attacking forward making him think he was caught. Bursting right past him took guts, and skill, but it was very risky. Volatile seems to be the name of the game with McIsaac.


Here McIsaac shows classic defensive zone puck movement that is crisp until he puts it diagonally on the tape of teammate Barrett Dachyshyn. Dachyshyn bungles forward progress by bringing the puck back into his own zone and flinging an errant pass. Thankfully, McIsaac comes to his aid along the R boards, collects the puck, and jams it out. This is a plus sequence for McIsaac who shows fluid in stride mobility/hands with the puck as well as composure to clean up his teammates mistake.


Keep your eye on the eventual one-on-one matchup where McIsaac gets taken wide and beaten by a step to the middle of the ice. Atoning for his open ice misplay, he doesn’t give up using his stickwork to prevent the shot from getting off. With the play driving to the corner boards, he makes no mistake on finishing his check off aggressively.


Entrusted as the lone D on the PP formation, McIsaac shows some unsteadiness in pass delivery sending one puck into Max Fortier’s skates, and the other lands as a slap pass that doesn’t have enough steam for the amount of finesse it lacked.


All is well until the shot is taken, where McIsaac proceeds to get pushed lightly and loses his man in front of the net who ends up scoring.