The WHL typically produces 35 NHL draft players a season. Here’s a list of the top first year WHL defense for the 2016 draft.
|Jake Bean (D)||0.941176||6/9/1998||6’1||L|
|Lucas Johansen (D)||0.710145||11/16/1997||6’1||L|
|Kale Clague (D)||0.605634||6/5/1998||6′||L|
|Max Lajoie (D)||0.596774||11/5/1997||6’1||L|
|Libor Hájek (D)||0.376812||2/4/1998||6’2||L|
|David Quenneville (D)||0.859375||3/13/1998||5’8||R|
|Dawson Davidson (D)||0.661017||4/7/1998||5’10||L|
|Matt Barberis (D)||0.530612||1/19/1998||5’11||R|
|Dylan Coghlan (D)||0.342857||2/19/1998||6’3||R|
|Colby Sissons (D)||0.309859||1/15/1998||6’1||L|
|Ondrej Vala (D)||0.291667||4/13/1998||6’4||L|
|Josh Anderson (D)||0.153846||8/29/1998||6’3||L|
|Vojtech Budik (D)||0.228571||1/29/1998||6’1||L|
|Brendan De Jong (D)||0.111111||3/23/1998||6’3||L|
Jake Bean (10 – 20)
- Elite Prospects: A shifty and intelligent defenceman that plays with panache and poise. An excellent skater that is a good puck-carrier up the ice. Makes very good decisions with and without the puck, and plays strong positionally. Works hard and doesn’t give the opposition much to work with, but could stand to be a bit more assertive during high pressure situations. That being said, he is not a one dimentional player. He displays natural talent in the offensive end, but also plays a complete defensive game in his own end. He has a proactive stick and boxes the opposition out, limiting lanes. All-in-all, the type of all-around defenceman that you want to have on the ice as much as possible. (Curtis Joe, EP 2016)
- Last Word On Sports: Jake Bean shows outstanding skating. Jake Bean has great puck control and combines with his skating skill to elude forecheckers and move the puck into good areas to start the rush. Bean can play a more physical game if he can add some muscle this year.
Luca Johansen (20 – 50)
- Hockey Now: A steady puck mover who will play both on the power play and penalty kill with a great shot from the point. He knows when to pinch and get involved in the offensive rush. He only has a hint of physical play in his blood but just like older brother and Nashville Predators forward Ryan, leaves the rough stuff to the rest of the team. Has good size and clears his net well.
- McKeens: Here is a summarized scouting report from McKeens. Please click the link for the full writeup. A poised, all-weather defenseman with good size, skill and mobility. A calm and methodical puckmover who reads the game well and effectively utilizes his smarts and mobility to find open space. Displays a talent for diffusing pressure and finding clean outlets. Moves smoothly and effortlessly in all directions – but can get quicker – especially off the mark – once he adds mass and muscle to a lanky 6-foot-1 frame.
- NHL Central Scouting: “Good size and strength, developing into solid two way defenseman – good hands and puck skills to manage the play at offensive blue line – excellent short game and passer, good shot from the point – effective game with and without the puck.”
Libor Hájek (D) (20 – 50)
- NHL Central Scouting: Strong skater with very good speed, agility and mobility. Very good at starting the rush and making the first pass out of zone. See the ice well to not put teammates in bad positions and outlets smartly for partner. Good awareness of his defensive responsibilities and solid containment game handling one on one situations. Utilizing size effectively to play the body as well as showing good anticipation to step up in the neutral zone to make a hit.”
- Hajek is likely a defensive d-man. He provides offense similar to the following players during their draft year; Travis Hamonic, David Musil & Joel Edmonson. The one thing is according to scouts Hajek is a good to great skater. Top end he is likely a number two or more likely a second pairing d-man.
Kale Clague (20 – 50)
- Elite Prospects: An offensive defenseman in nature, Clague is a tantalizing blend of speed, cunning, and craftiness. Very smooth skater that is mobile at a professional level. Great vision and is able to control plays with the puck on his stick. Creative passer. Will need to work on his shot and consistency moving forward, but has the undeniable raw skills and fundamental attributes of a puck-moving offensive defenseman. All-in-all, a highly skilled defenseman that has the potential to be a proficient producer from the back end. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)
Max Lajoie (50 – 100)
- Elite Prospects: A competitive two-way defenceman that earns his ice time and strives to be a difference-maker. Excellent skating technique: naturally mobile and able to start and stop on a pin’s head. Displays a deceptively accurate shot and is creative on the power play. Proficient playmaker and spots seams in traffic quickly. His habitually conservative style of play in his own end lets him make quick, high percentage decisions with and without the puck. Reacts to different pressure situations with poise and analyzes the situation very quickly to determine the right play to make. All-in-all, a versatile two-way defenceman that keeps his own game in check and plays to the extent of his capabilities. (Curtis Joe, EP 2016)
David Quenneville (D) (100 – 150)
- Too Many Men On The Site: A small, undersized defenseman at 5’8 183lbs, David owns a similar playing style to Nashville’s Ryan Ellis. Quenneville owns incredible offensive instincts as a blueliner, and sees the game well. He loves to jump in on the rush, and creates a lot of offense.
- Quenneville is a strong puck moving defenseman, but the concern will be whether he can make an impact with his 5’8 frame in the NHL.
Josh Mahura (100 – 120)
- Mahura didn’t played two regular season games this year due to an MCL tear. He played a little in the playoffs (4 points in 16 games) and is projected as a mid-round pick.
- Red Line Report: Mahura didn’t show any of the big-time upside he flashed late last season or this past summer as a member of Canada’s U-18 Team, he was still able to make effective breakout feeds, moving the puck out of his zone very quickly and preventing sustained pressure. He started off the series playing fairly tentatively, but as things progressed (especially after taking a couple hits) his comfort level increased.
Dawson Davidson (D) (100 – 150)
- Dawson Davidson wasn’t rated on the NHL’s final ranking. The Draft Analyst has him rated as a 4th round pick. His Even Strength scoring is on par with Jake Bean & David Quenneville. He is under the radar high hockey IQ and is a slick puck mover.
- Scouting Report by Buck-Eye State Hockey: Davidson is an undersized defencemen at 5’11 but he more than makes up for his lack of size with great offensive plays. He has 14 points in 18 games for the Blazers which is tops among their d-core and tied for 16th among all WHL defencemen. He is a good skater who routinely joined the rush. He goes to the net hard, even crashed into the Giants goalie at one point.
- Davidson might be my fav sleeper of the draft. He’s not big (5’10) but provides good offense could be a late round steal for some team. If drafting an undersized defender I would like to see three qualities; i. Offense, ii. Hockey IQ, iii. Skating
Vojtech Budik (100 – 150)
- Central Scouting has the Czech defenseman as a 4th – 5th round pick. HFBoards The Draft Analyst (has him rated 84th) had the following to say, ‘Outstanding patience, controlled on breakouts, quick feet, slot coverage very good, doesnt puck gaze, step-ups timely, excellent gap. Doesn’t get fancy with the puck at all. In it goes, out it goes.’
Dylan Coghlan (D) (150 – 200)
- Coghlan has good size (6’3), he’s a right hand shot defenseman, plays a physical game, and good two-way game. Coghlan gets limited minute on power play behind Parker Wotherspoon (NYI 4th – 2015), Brandon Carlo (Bruins – 2nd – 2015) & Juuso Valimaki (2017 Draft Eligible), Coghlan had, I believe, 19 of his 26 points at even strength.
Josh Anderson (150 – 200)
- Anderson is a big, physical, stay at home d-man that doesn’t bring much offense. There are several publications that have him rated within the first three rounds; Button (630, McKenzie’s mid-term (49) & Central Scouting (56). I just don’t see it. He’s big but at (6’3) he’s not huge by NHL standards and very strong defensively at the Junior level. But without bringing any offense is a red flag for me someone is going to take him early. I could see selecting him after the 5th but too me at best he’s going to be a bottom pairing defenseman. His ceiling if everything works out is likely Dalton Prout.
Ondrej Vala (D) (150 – 200)
- Vala is big (6’4), left-hand shot defenseman with decent .29 PPG. He dropped 32 spots by Central Scouting (70 – 102) and one scout mentioned he was invisible, still with his size & relatively late birthday (April) he could be selected late in the draft.
Brendan De Jong (D) (150 – 200)
- De Jong might be an interesting draft and follow player, he needs to put on some weight. From WHL from Above: An extremely lanky kid who stands 6’4 and weighs in at under 175 pounds. But he skates well, keeps the play in front of him and usually doesn’t do much to get himself in trouble when he’s on the ice.
Colby Sissons (D) (150 – 200)
- Sissons is a potential late round pick. Redline Report: He has caught our attention in several recent viewings with his constantly well-timed pinches, and he’s not afraid to handle and rush the puck. Sissons is a smart decision-maker with a solid first pass, and he is someone who could be a real late riser in the season’s final months.
Matt Barberis (D) (150 – 200)
- Barberis is not on the NHL list of players but he bring enough offense to be considered and he’s also a right hand shot which doesn’t hurt. Quick notes on Barberis via Canucks Army; he is on the small size, a decent skater, questionable decision making in all zones & lacks the strength to contain attackers down. Not a glowing review but in the 7th round he might be worth a chance.
Nolan Reid (D) (150 – 200)
- Reid isn’t on many draft lists but he’s a right handed puck moving defenseman that has decent (not great) offense and could be on a couple of teams draft radar.