Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column looking at Hockey’s Stars. Over the next few days we will be previewing the 2014 NHL Draft by ranking our top 30 prospects and honourable mentions. As always, you can check out the previous Top Shelf Prospects articles here.
With the Junior seasons not just in Canada but throughout the world gearing up for the stretch drive and a number of international tournaments (Ivan Hlinka, Four Nations, Subway Super Series, World Juniors, Five Nations) in the books, we have gotten a decent overview of what some of the biggest prospects for the draft are doing this year. This is an up to date look and ranking of these prospects. That said, there is still plenty of work to be done and many important games to be played including junior league playoffs, European playoffs, and of course the Under 18 World Championships. While the rankings still have some fluidity, a pecking order is also starting to define itself. For now, this is what we have, we hope you enjoy the early preview and be sure to be ready in late March as we roll out our full player-by-player draft preview.
2015 NHL Draft February Ranks 26-30
26) Filip Chlapik, C, Charlottetown Islanders (6’1, 183 lbs): Chlapik is another solid Czech-born player, and as the third potential first rounder in our rankings highlights a resurgence in the country’s hockey program. He represented his country at the Ivan Hlinka where his five points in five games helped his team to a silver medal. He adds that to the silver medal he won at last spring’s U18 World Championship. This season Chlapik has 25 goals and 58 points in 51 games for the Islanders. Chlapik is a very smart playmaker, he has the hockey IQ to anticpate plays, the vision to see openings, and the passing skills to create for his teammates. He is a strong stickhandler who is able to protect the puck, and slow the game down in the offensive zone, extending plays and allowing his teammates to get open. He can also score goals as he has a powerful shot, and quick release. He’s got decent height, but could stand to add some more muscle to his frame. That said he hasn’t been afraid to battle in the corners or in front of the net. Add all this to a good skating stride, great first step quickness and agility, and good top speed, and Chlapik is a solid prospect whose catching the eye of scouts.
27) Brock Boeser, Right Wing, Waterloo Blackhawks (5’11”, 174 lbs): A USHL rookie, Broeser has had a great season so far with 26 goals and 45 points in 39 games for the Hawks. This follows up on a solid six goals in five games for the U.S. squad at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he was team captain, and three goals and seven points in four games at the Under 17 Hockey Challenge last season. Boeser is a pure sniper who has a tremendous one-timer, and a hard wrist shot with a hair trigger release. He has the hockey sense and ability to find holes in the opposing defence and set up for a shot. A good skater and puck handler, Boeser also has the ability to create openings for himself or others. He can make plays, with good vision and solid passing skill. He could stand to add more muscle to his frame, to be even more effective in the corners and in front of the net. He doesn’t show fear to go to dirty areas right now, but it is an area where he could simply win more battles with more core strength. Boeser has a low centre of gravity and cycles the puck well now, but should be even better in time if he can add that muscle. He is committed to the University of North Dakota.
28) Jansen Harkins, Centre, Prince George Cougars (6’1″ 181 lbs): Harkins started slow for the Cougars last year, but really turned it on in the second half, and has carried that into this season with 18 goals and 66 points in 58 games. Harkins is a good skater, with solid acceleration and top end speed. He also has decent balance, and a low centre of gravity, but could stand to add some muscle and core strength going forward. He has used vision and passing skills to be a top playmaker for the Cougars, but also has the soft hands, quick release and powerful shot to score goals. He needs to use that shot more though as he can sometimes pass up good shooting opportunities and make an extra pass. Harkins is a versatile player who can create offense off the rush and in the cycle game, equally. He also plays a solid defensive game, and is already strong in the faceoff circle.
29) Thomas Chabot, Defence, St. John Sea Dogs (6’2″ 179 lbs): A silky, smooth skater, Chabot shows high potential as puck moving defensive prospect. He has the speed to join or lead the rush, and get back defensively. He has the edgework and agility to pivot quickly and cover large areas of the ice, or to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. He is calm and composed with the puck, has good stickhandling ability and can make a strong pass either to start the transition, or set up a play from the blueline. His shot is decent, and he has good accuracy, but he could stand to add some more muscle, and make it even harder.Defensively he has good positioning and is willing to play a physical game in front of the net and in the corners.
30) Thomas Novak, Centre, Waterloo Blackhawks (6’0″ 181 lbs): Novak put up five goals and 11 points in five games at the Ivan Hlinka this summer, helping the United States to a Bronze medal in the tournament. Playing with Boeser, he has 13 goals and 42 points in 38 games for Waterloo. Novak has good speed and excellent acceleration. He is a creative playmaker with great stickhandling ability, crisp tape-to-tape passes and excellent vision. Novak has good offensive instincts and seems to make smart plays with the puck more often than not. He also has a good wrist shot and decent release. He could continue to work on his defensive game. The effort is there, but he needs some coaching on positioning and decision making in his own end. He is committed to the University of Minnesota.
Stay tuned for our honourable mentions.
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