This section is for lower level competition in North America. Outside of the Canadian Major Junior and USHL in America.
Casey Mittelstadt (6 – 15)
DOB: DOB: 1998-11-22 / POS: C-LW / H: 6’1 / SH: L
Has a chance to be the highest drafted high school pick in NHL since Blake Wheeler. Possibility he goes in top 5. The Hockey Writers compared him to Tyler Seguin. Skating and offensive ability are his strengths.
Elite Prospects: An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked. Bigger players don’t phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition’s armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won’t be able to read in time. On top of all this, he can play a north-south game, and his transition game is already at an elite level. He’s a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level.
Cale Makar (6 – 15)
POS: D / DOB: 1998-10-30 / H: 5’11 / SH: R
Puckmoving defenseman. Been compared to Erik Karlsson. The major questions are going to be size and defense. He might be selected inside the top 5. Will be the highest drafted player drafted out of the AJHL.
Recrutes.ca: Terrific mobility and puck handling skills make NHL teams more likely to overlook size and defensive questions and make him a candidate to go as high as the top thee. Has the dynamic skill to run an NHL power play and produce like a top-two defenceman at that level. Tore up the AJHL this season as the only defenceman anywhere near the top ten in scoring. He’s a sure bet to be the highest drafted player in AJHL history.
2nd & 3rd Rounders
Ian Mitchell (D): DOB: 1999-01-18 / H: 5’10 / SH: R
Mobile, puck-moving defenseman. He’s a smart player and skating is high end. Size and level of competition will be a concern. Played well at the Ivan Hlinka and will be going to Denver to play college hockey next year. Likely a ceiling of a second pairing offensive defenseman similar to Tyson Barrie.
POS: Defense / Shoots: R / H: 6’1 W: 185 / DOB June, 20, 1998
The Draft Analyst: Fabbro likes to play an up-tempo game, breaking out of his zone with either short bursts of speed or a hard, accurate head man. He can identify and exploit gaps, including ones with a closing window of opportunity. He has above-average balance and the type of coast-to-coast ability to thwart tight-checking schemes. Crossing the red line is rarely an adventure, as he will either slow down the pace or take the puck wide and into the opposing zone. He has very good hands and can handle a tough pass during the back-and-forth nature of a power play. Fabbro possesses a very good shot and an early-season issue with accuracy seems to have been rectified.
Elite Prospects: Dante Fabbro is a dependable two-way defenseman with high offensive upside. He plays with poise and makes mature, high-percentage decisions under pressure. In his own end, he is proactive with both his body and stick, and does everything right to interrupt passing lanes and win back possession. With the puck on his stick, he is mobile at an elite level and can direct plays like a quarterback. He possesses a hard and accurate release on his shot, that he gets off quickly and on-net. All-in-all, a complete defenseman that plays a refined game at both ends of the ice. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)
Dobbers Prospects: March 2016 – Dante Fabbro is gifted offensive defenseman who has shown to be capable of dominating puck possession in his two seasons with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. Fabbro combines agile skating, lateral mobility, and near elite speed when evading defenders as he rushes the puck up ice into the attacking zone. Deadly efficient on the powerplay, Dante is best when he has the puck on his stick as he can spot team mates with breakout passes and release a strong, accurate point shot from the blue line. Though tabbed as an offensive d-man, Fabbro is also effective in the defensive zone as he is extremely effective in puck retrieval, even under pressure, and is strong in transition. Fabbro is committed to attending Boston University in the NCAA next season. – Aynsley Scott
Bonnyville Nouvelle: “What people focus on with Brinson’s game is his offensive statistics, however it is important to recognize that he plays the game the right way and plays in all key defensive situations,” said Rick Swan, head coach and GM of the Bonnyville Pontiacs. “The honor is well deserved and we only expect him to be better as the season progresses.”
com: Four way skating defender who has seemed to go from a tiny midget defenseman into a six foot elite skating offenseman. Calm, confident and aware from his end all the way up to the attack zone. Plays on both the PK and the PP where his vision and elusiveness already make him a strong competitor. He will continue to work on strengthening his shot and over all physicality in the weight room. He started at 5’ 8” and projects to be 6’ 3”.
Committed to St. Cloud State University. –Bill Placzek—
The Hockey House: Dennis Cholowski, D (West):The lone NHL Central Scouting B-rated prospect from the CJHL, Chilliwack Chiefs defenseman Dennis Cholowski is quickly making a name for himself in his sophomore BCHL campaign. An early 1998-born blueliner, Cholowski is a great skater that isn’t afraid to pinch in offensively, something he does very effectively. A year ago, the then-16-year-old defender made the decision to commit to St. Cloud State University in the NCAA, a huge accomplishment for a defenseman still years away from actually making the transition. Cholowski already sees time on the powerplay, and after growing five inches since his first BCHL game back in 2013, size could become another asset of his once he learns to use it. With some strong defenseman gracing Canada’s West blue line at the WJAC, Cholowski will likely be one of the most dominant forces on a team that features potential top ten NHL draft pick Dante Fabbro.
POS: Defense / Shoots: Left / H: 6’2 W: 190 / DOB: April, 27, 1998
Penalty Box Radio: A big-bodied, big-minute blue line cruncher, Cairns has the ability to quarter-back a power-play and put up solid offensive numbers, mostly in the assist column. However, he’s much more effective acting as a quiet, shutdown defenseman, so he isn’t the guy you’d rely on to score a big goal from the point in the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Instead, the reigning OJHL champion can move the puck around in any zone without losing focus and never seems to get rattled, despite being physical at times.
The Draft Analyst: Defenseman Derek Topatigh, a Princeton recruit, was excellent in generating offense from the blueline, displaying a quick first step, aggressive pinches and a patient outlook when controlling the play. He only had one assist in four games, but he nonetheless left a good impression on us.
The Draft Analyst: As far as first-year draft eligibles for 2016, offensive defenseman Owen Grant (Vermont) was impressive in all three zones.
Dante Fabbro’s 1.49 Pts/G is the highest a defenseman since 2005. The previous highest in the past 10 years was Michael Prapavessis’s 1.15 Pts/G in the OJHL. The previous highest Pts/G by a BCHL defenseman was Josh Manson’s .8 Pts/G.
Fabbro’s scouting report has him listed as a two-way defender and has drawn comparison to Tyson Barrie and Ryan McDonagh. Fabbro or his teammate Jost will likely be the highest Canadian junior player drafted since Kyle Turris. Fabbro will likely be the highest defenseman drafted this century.
One player that was missing from this list is Dean Stewart. A 6’2 defenseman from the MJHL that’s committed to the U of Nebraska-Omaha. Stewart is a late birthday (June, 12, 1998) and averaged .52 pts/g this past year. He then put up 12 points in 8 games in the playoffs. Stewart was ranked No. 125 among North American skaters on the NHL Central Scouting Service midterm ranking of the top prospects for 2016 NHL Draft.
Derek Topatigh is in his second draft class. The year before he had averaged .5 Pts/G.
There were 16 Players scored .70+ Pts/G during their draft year. Five of the defenseman played in the NHL; Brendan Smith, Josh Manson, Colton Parayko, Ben Hutton & Justin Schultz. All 5 look to be on target to play 100+ games. That’s a strong number and doesn’t include several prospects still developing most notably – Jake Walman.
There were 24 players drafted below .7 Pts/G. Four defenseman played in an NHL game; Julian Melchiori, Andrew MacWilliam , Mark Borowiecki, Dylan Olsen. Two of the defenseman have played 100+ games. Dylan Olsen is former first round pick that is a long shot to play more than 200 games. The chances of playing 100+ games drops by roughly 20%.
There were five defenseman who averaged .6 Pts/G over their NCAA career. Four of the five defenseman went onto play in the NHL – Justin Schultz, Brendan Smith, Jake Walman, Colton Parayko & Ben Hutton. Jake Walman has yet to sign in with his NHL team. All 5 scored above .7 Pts/60 in their Junior A draft year.
Brinson Pasichnuk is a defenseman that is intriguing. Outside of Fabbro he has the highest Pts/G total of any previously drafted Canadian Junior defenseman in the past 10 years. He’s also a good skating, physical defenseman. Brinson was in on roughly 30% of all goals the Bonnyville Pontiacs played in this past season. For comparison Fabbro was in on roughly 32% of his teams offensve for games that he played in. My main concern is, I believe, he’s committed to Arizona State which is not a strong program.
Here are the top 5 players that I consider drafting;
Dante Fabbro – Top 15 Pick
Dennis Cholowski – Top 60 Pick – Good two-way defender.
Brinson Pasichnuk – 5th Round or later
Matt Cairns – 5th Round or later – Good size can move the puck.
Dean Stewart – 5th Round or later – Good size right hand shot.
I would be concerned that Derek Topatigh, Sam Dunn & Owen Grant do not bring enough offense. Although they are all Right-hand shot defenders.
List of Canadian Junior Defenseman drafted since 2005.
POS: Center / Shoots: Right / H: 6’ / W: 190 lbs /DOB: Mar, 17, 1998
Elite Prospects: Tyson Jost is a crafty goal-scorer that carries out plays as quickly as he envisions them. As someone who thinks and plays at a fast tempo, it comes as no surprise that he creates a lot of energy as an offensive catalyst. He sees the ice very well and has the willingness and determination to win battles in the tough areas. All-in-all, a dynamic offensive forward with top-6 potential at the next level. (Curtis Joe, EP 2016)
The Draft Analyst: Jost has an excellent shot to compliment his extraordinary passing acumen, using soft hands and a quick release to turn a bad pass in his skates into a well-placed attempt at the net. Jost’s shot accuracy is top notch, and he will beat you from the inside of the ice or outside from his arsenal of moves. He is a three-zone center with decent size who will not necessarily avoid physical play, and he’s shown to control the puck while taking a beating.
DraftSite.com: Shifty centre with impressive feet and stickhandling ability. Can stickhandle in a phone booth. A team leader who on the ice and in the room. Great vision and recognition in the offensive end, so he spreads away from teammates and then pinpoint passes to their sticks on the give and go. A terrific finisher with a great shot. Disciplined worker in his own zone. Wins puck battles and turns them into chances. He knows where to place himself so that the puck can find him. Makes his teammates better. Not the finished product and needs more, lower body strength and muscle. He has committed to the University of North Dakota. –Bill Placzek
USA Today: Colin Grannary (28 goals, 74 points) was the best forward on the ice all night for either team and was named Team West player of the game for his efforts. The Merritt Centennials’ center refused to quit on pucks all night and was relentless in the offensive zone. He showcased tremendous speed, stops/starts and pivots. Grannary also provided all the offense Team West could muster with their only goal, and skated around Team East’s defense with ease. Red Line’s man in attendance was impressed with his strong work ethic, and described a slippery player who was hard to catch and provided energy every shift. He was noticeable every shift and also terrific in the faceoff circle.
Zachary DeVine Grannary was a fine mix of skill, tenacity, speed, and desire. Noticed on the ice nearly every shift, created scoring chances offensively for himself and teammates. Needs some help defensively, but forechecking was smart and effective.
POS: Center / Shoots: Left / H: 6’ / W: 175 / DOB: Sept, 21, 1997
InsideHalton “He’s an elite skater, an NHL-type skater,” Mark Jooris Burlington Cougars coach said. “He’s got very good poise and vision with the puck.” But Jooris wasn’t always thrilled with how those skills were being utilized. Too often, he saw Jeffers taking shortcuts in the defensive zone, looking to spring the next rush. So after a dismal 11-win season came to an end, he sat down with the 6-foot, 170-pound centre. “We had a very candid conversation,” Jooris said. “I said, ‘Do you want to help this team be successful or do you want to go play shinny?’ Some kids will say, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it,’ but he’s 100 per cent bought in. He’s playing the right way, both ways. It’s been great to see.”
POS: C / Shoots: L / H: 6’2 / W: 185 / DOB Nov, 17, 1997
ProspectsHockey.wordpress.com: “Dickinson is a smooth skating, offensively skilled centre,” said Marr. “With strong offensive hockey sense, he is a very good playmaker and knows how to be in the right place at the right time. Dickinson’s quick to recognize opportunity and has shown a good scoring touch. His game has continued to grow and improve over the course of the season.”
The Draft Analyst: A feisty and physical yet undersized forward who can play in all situations at either the wing or up the middle, Berger is an explosive offensive talent who likes to use his powerful leg drive and tenacity to wreak havoc on opponents during the forecheck. Berger, who was drafted by Des Moines and committed to Brown University (ECAC), is the perfect player for the half-court game, so to speak, in that he can change the momentum of a relatively stagnant game either from relentless pressure or top-end skill. He’s a very good stickhandler who keeps the puck close to his body to limit poke checks and turnovers, so he’s a good option to man the wall on the power play.
SBN College Hockey: “– He’s not overly big, but he does a good job of maneuvering through traffic with a combination of speed and good puck skills. He did a nice job distributing the puck as well as finding the back of the net here this week.”
POS: C / Shoots: R / H: 6’ / W: 175 / DOB: Dec, 23, 1997
Alaska Nanooks: “Justin is a very coachable player that does all of the little things right. He is a complete player that can play in all situations. Justin has matured into a good leader and is very well respected by his teammates, staff and within the community. We are very proud of his commitment to the Nanooks and look forward to working with Justin on his preparation for college hockey,” Young’s head coach Joey Bouchard described of the forward.
POS: C / Shoots: L / H: 6’1 / W: 185 / DOB: July, 22, 1998
wordpress.comIn his own zone Keenan has shutdown forward capabilities, clogging shooting and passing lanes effectively, anticipating the play with effectiveness while displaying strong positional play. Tenacious in puck pursuit, Keenan takes direct routes to pucks, engages physically and shows an aggressiveness on the forecheck.
Hockey Now: Vipers head coach Mark Ferner said, Finlay has a good hockey IQ and succeeds despite his size, comparing him to skilled, undersized NHL forwards like Johnny Gaudreau and Tyler Johnson.
POS: C / Shoots: L / H: 6’ / W: 165 / DOB: Sept, 17, 1997
Kyle Betts commits to Cornell. A smart, offensive minded pivot with good feet/explosiveness. He’s had a heck of a past 18 months. — Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune)April 30, 2015
Here’s a look at players drafted in the past 12 years.
In 2006-07 the average BCHL team scored 3.77 Goals/Game versus 3.44 G/G this past season.
If a 1st year draft eligible player averages above 1.5 Pts/G in Junior A there’s a good chance he will play 100+ games.
I’d expect a player that has NHL potential would need to score close to or above 1 Pts/G.
Projecting a power forward timeline is a little trickier. At the time of the draft statistically McKenzie, Benn averaged just over 1.2 Pts/G.
Tyson Jost, is not only a great name but a legit prospect. Based on his skill-set (complete two-way player with top 6 offensive upside) he is the best junior draft prospect since Turris. There can be a case that he is on par with Turris, given the decrease in scoring in the BCHL versus Turris’s draft year.
Outside of Jost there is a lot of question marks with regards to the forward group; i. Dickinson, Grannary & Young are all late 97 birthdays ii. With the exception of Murray all the players are either average size or on the smaller size iii. The only power forward Murray is a little shy offensively.
Murray will likely be the second forward taken. I’m not sure if the offense is there for him to be selected within the first three rounds, but if a team has multiple picks after the 4th round starts he seems like a he could be a solid pick. A player that’s 6’4 has good offensive instincts and will likely have another 3 – 4 years development time as he’s committed to Penn State for 2017-18 season.
Outside of Jost & Murray, I think the rest are late picks, 6th or 7th I think you can take a flyer on one of Grannary, Jeffers, Dickinson or Berger in the later rounds. Basically, a draft and follow – in 5 years you might have a prospect.
Another prospect of note is Kohen Olischefski, from the BCHL, (.84 Pts/G) who committed to University of Denver. He’s a speedy skater, good size (6’1 165) who is projected to have good upside when his body fills out.
Other players on the radar but unlikely to be drafted are; i. Dylan Thiessen (C/LW) from MJHL with .84 pts/g, ii. Jacob Harris (LW) from OJHL with .77 pts/g, iii. Layton Parsons (LW) MJHL with .49 pts/g, iv. Donovan Rehill (LW) from MJHL with .29 pts/g, v. Taden Rattie (RW) from AJHL with .36 pts/g