Welcome to today’s edition of “Top Shelf Prospects”. If you missed any of my previous articles you can find a complete listing of them here.
This week I am taking an early look at the 2013 NHL draft with my top 30 rankings so far.
If someone obvious is missing off the list (especially a European player) chances are i haven’t seen enough to properly rank him yet. I often use the World Juniors, the Five Nations, and the Under 18s as my reference point for ranking some of these players as Euro tapes are hard to come by. That said guys like Barkov, Nikushkin, and Lindholm who were seen last season (or in 4 nations events, or the Subway Super Series) will be included.
I’ll be doing this ranking in four parts this week. 1-10 is available by clicking here. 11-20 are here. Rankings 21-30 are the focus of today’s piece, and honourable mentions will come out later in the week.
21) Kerby Rychel, Left Wing, Windsor Spitfires (6’1, 200 lbs): After scoring 41 goals last season, I expected more out of Rychel to start this season. I really thought he’d be in the top 15 and might even challenge for the top 10. He had a really slow start. However a recent 5 point night has seemed to Rychel back on track and he has 24 points in 24 games (including 15 goals) this season. The son of Warren Rychel uses his excellent wrist shot and very quick release to score goals. Rychel also has a very good one timer and should be called a pure sniper. He is also absolutely lethal in close to the net, using his soft, quick hands to tip in shots and bury rebounds. Rychel drives opposing goalies nuts by setting up right at the top of the opponents crease. Rychel is not afraid to play a tough game and has been known to drop the gloves from time to time. If he can show more consistency, he could move way up the rankings on my next list.
22) William Carrier, Left Wing/Centre, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (6’1 200 lbs): Carrier has a strong, powerful skating stride. He has great balance and is very difficult to knock off the puck. He cycles the puck extremely well down low, and finds openings to cut to the net, where he has the soft hands to score goals. He also has good vision and can be an excellent playmaker. Carrier has the added bonus of playing a strong two-way game. He’s had a fantastic start for Cape Breton with 15 goals and 40 points in 24 games for Cape Breton, and has teamed with Alexandre Lavoie on what is essentially just a two-pronged attack for the Screaming Eagles.
23) Zach Fucale, Goaltender, Halifax Mooseheads (6’0″ 166 lbs): He’s got 16 wins in 19 games to start the season. Now you look at the stats and the 886 Save percentage is a little concerning, but the reality is that Halifax is an all out offence, all the time team, and Fucale is the backbone that lets them play this style. Fucale is an athletic goalie with very good reflexes and He has very quick reflexes and excellent technique. One thing that stands out, especially for a 17 year old goalie, is Fucale’s rebound control. It is very rare to see a kid who is already as good at that aspect as he is. Fucale has shown to be a workhorse over the last two seasons, as he starts a ton of games for the Mooseheads and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.credit: Gopher Gal, CC
24) Hudson Fasching, Centre/Right Wing, United States National Team Development Program (6’3 190 lbs): Fasching is a rising star with the USNTDP and has shown to be capable in all aspects of the game. He is a powerful skater with a long stride. He is a natural power forward who has excellent balance and is very tough to knock of the puck. His top end speed is good, but the acceleration could be improved. Fasching takes the puck to the net, and can score goals in tight, or via a good wrist shot with a quick release. He is also a valuable two way player, playing important penalty killing minutes for the club. Fasching is also known as a strong leader, and is seen as future captain material, based on the way teammates follow his strong on ice example and work ethic.
25) Madison Bowey, Defence, Kelowna Rockets (6’1 194 lbs): The Kelowna Rockets defence factory has done it again, churning out yet another potential first round defenceman. Bowey has shown offensive upside from the blue line this year with 9 points in 19 games. Bowey is a strong two way player, who relies on his good speed, acceleration and quickness to define his game in all areas of the ice. He is an excellent puck mover with the ability to rush the puck or to make a strong first pass. He is also good defensively as he has high hockey IQ, reads the play very well, and cuts down passing and shooting lanes. The scouts are once again be off to Kelowna to scout the next big defence prospect they have produced.
26) Anthony Duclair, Left Wing, Quebec Remparts (5’11” 182 lbs): Duclair is a fantastic skater, who started the season very strong with 11 points in 9 games for Quebec. He has a ton of top end speed, great acceleration and tremendous agility. He is able to stickhandle at top speed which forces defenders to back up on him on the rush as he is able to go wide and cut to the net if they don’t respect his skating. He is also able to take advantage of the extra space with a very accurate wrist shot and good release. An ankle injury has hurt Duclair’s draft stock so far, as he just hasn’t played enough games. If he comes back strong, I can definitely see him moving up in the second half.
27) Spencer Martin, Goalie, Mississauga Steelheads (6’02” 192 lbs): Martin has been an absolute revelation for the Steelheads this season. His 915 save percentage and 11-4-0 record have helped Mississauga to a surprising 2nd place spot in the Central division standings. Part of the new breed of taller goaltenders, Martin plays a solid butterfly style and has very quick legs taking away the bottom of the net very effectively. He has good size, and plays his angles well; challenging shooters effectively. Like many young goalies, Martin can sometimes have an issue with rebound control, and he will need to focus on improving that aspect of his game. However there is a ton of raw talent here, that will have scouts excited for the NHL draft.
28) Frederick Gauthier, Centre, Rimouski Oceanic (6’3″ 192 lbs): With 10 goals and 20 points in 20 games in the QMJHL, Gauthier is making a strong impression in his rookie season for Rimouski. He is a big centre who has shown to be very strong along the boards and in front of the net. Another powerforward in the making, Gauthier wins a ton of battles, and can both set up teammates or score his own goals with an accurate wrister and good release. He shows a good two-way game, and is especially impressive for a rookie. He has great size, and some pretty good skating, with decent top end speed and acceleration. If there is a criticism, its that I’d like to see him throw more big hits given his size and strength advantages.
29) Shea Theodore, Defence Seattle Thunderbirds (6’2″ 180 lbs): Theodore scored 35 points last season as a 16 year old for Seattle. In August, he was part of Team Canada’s Ivan Hlinka roster and brought home a gold medal. Hes followed that up with 18 points in 23 games to start the season on a weak Seattle club. He is an excellent skater who loves to rush the puck and has great puck protection and stickhandling ability. He also has great vision and passing abilities and is a natural power play quarterback. Theodore has plenty of size, but he needs to learn how to use it more effectively in his own end of the rink. He needs to be more assertive in winning board battles and clearing the front of the Seattle net. He has improved this aspect of his game over last year, but there is still some more room for improvement and bulking up and adding some more muscle to his frame would certainly help. The offense, size and skating ability are certainly all there, and we know that NHL teams just love defencemen who can move the puck the way Theodore can.
30) Bo Horvat, Centre, London Knights (6’0″ 203 lbs): A strong two-way player with great hockey sense, and a strong work ethic. Horvat wins a lot of board battles, and is a power forward who loves to take the puck to the front of the net. His hockey sense seems to always have him in the right position at both ends of the ice. A good character guy, Horvat sets a good example for other young players on the Knights and is a favorite of the Hunters. With 8 goals and 16 points in 24 games, he’s shown some scoring touch for London, but will need to show a bit more offence down the stretch if he wants to stay in the first round. Right now he’s right on the cusp, and will probably be knocked out once I can see and rank more European players.
Thanks for reading. Check back in later in the week for the honourable mentions.
Feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @lastwordBKerr and be sure to join Max Vasilyev and I on Wednesday Nights at 10:00pm when we host the hockey radio show, “Puckheads”, on the Last Word Radio Network. You can listen in live or to our past podcasts by clicking here, or by searching for us on iTunes.