This is the second installment of the International Scouting Services top 30 player rankings. Part one of the series can be found here. Keep in mind that this is not a mock draft, but merely a brief introduction to the players who are considered to be potential first round picks as determined by the ISS. Additionally, I will address the goaltending prospects separately because organizational need may outweigh ‘best player available’ on draft day.
I mentioned in the comments of part one that this is the ideal time for me to put these articles together, even though we are in the middle of the regular season. The reality is that the CHL season is ending shortly, and we will not be getting good looks at some of the prospects that will be considered for the first round until the International tournaments and scouting combine begins. Additionally, with the team struggling as mightily as they have since their impressive December run, I thought we could use a slight distraction.
The result of the poll in part 1 suggests that as a collective we feel that: Jake Virtanen (16%) or Nick Ritchie (13%) would look good in Vancouver colors, but none of these guys are going to be Canucks (13%). Maybe this next group of players will hold the player that will don the Blue and Green!
11) Leon Draisaitl (C): Also known as the German Gretzky, Draisaitl has been an interesting prospect to watch this year. He has ideal NHL size and great scoring ability, but his skating has taken him out of the top 3 considerations that he’d been given earlier in the year. Draisaitl will never live up to the outlandish comparisons to Wayne Gretzky, but could become a player not unlike Anze Kopitar.
12) Kasperi Kapanen (W): Kasperi is a slightly taller version of his father former NHLer Sami Kapanen. Kasperi has quick feet and loves to play with the puck on the offensive end. Kapanen is also known for his high compete level. His size is questionable as he’s been listed anywhere from 5’8" to 6’0". They always say ‘like father, like son’ and in this case it’s not a bad assessment of his style of play. Other scouts have suggested that his game is similar to Patrick Kane.
13) Nikolai Goldobin (W): Hey look: Sarnia has a high talent Russian on its team! Goldobin follows in the footsteps of Yakupov as the high flying offensive forward on the roster. Goldobin has elite puck skills and loves to score and set up goals. Fellow countryman Alex Semin comes to mind when trying to find a player with a similar skillset.
14) Alex Tuch (W): Tuch is a 6’3" power forward who plays for the USNDT in the USHL and has committed to Boston College for next year. He has the size and raw talents to be a force at the NHL level, but will need to spend at least a couple of seasons further developing his skills before turning pro. Scouts consider him to be a more offensively gifted version of Brian Boyle.
15) Roland McKeown (D): There are a lot of scouts who think they’ve seen the second coming of Scott Niedermayer! If McKeown was slightly bigger (listed at 6’0"), we would be talking about him as a top 5 pick in the draft because he has all of the skills required to be a top pairing defenseman. As far as current NHLers go, McKeown projects as a Drew Doughty type of player.
16) Conner Bleackley (C): The second Red Deer Rebel in the top 20 (Haydn Fleury being the first), Bleackley has been impressing people all season. This guy is a defensive workhorse who has no problem getting under the skin of his opponents. Although Bleackley enjoys being an agitator, he is not a penalty magnet (46 pims in 68 games). Bleackley compares admirably to Jeff Carter.
17) Jared McCann (C): If the CHL top prospects game helped one player more than anyone else, it was Jared McCann. McCann took this game very seriously! It seemed that every time he was on the ice he either had the puck or he was about to get the puck. McCann and his stunning one timer are compared to Tyler Seguin.
18) Sonny Milano (W): Milano has magic hands. His hockey idol is Patrick Kane and it shows in his puckhandling abilities. Where Milano and Kane are different is that Milano likes getting his hands dirty. Milano was deemed one of the most in demand College hockey recruits and will be joining current USNDP linemate Alex Tuch at Boston College in the fall.
19) Ivan Barbashev (C): The first of back-to-back teammates in Halifax, Barbashev plays the game the ‘American’ way. The Russian is a big strong bodied player who is one of the first guys back on defense. Offensively we can project that this player will be a 50-60 point producer who plays the game similar to David Backes.
20) Nikolaj Ehlers (W): Not to be overshadowed by Barbashev, Ehlers is an exciting player to watch! The Dane is probably the fastest player in the CHL; Ehlers also possesses as deadly of a backhand as his team mate and 2013 3rd overall pick Jonathan Drouin. Scouts declare Ehlers to be as fast as Bure, as skilled as Naslund, with the vision of Forsberg… If this is true, he has been seriously under rated.