Welcome back to Top Shelf NHL Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 Draft Articles Click here.
Its almost here, draft day. With 75 NHL Draft scouting reports in the books, I now make a number of short write-ups over the next two days to take us over three full rounds worth of prospects (at least on my best player available chart). If history is any indication though, some of these players will get taken in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds, and in my opinion, will be big-time steals at those picks.
2015 NHL Draft Profiles 76-85
#76 Nicolas Roy, Center, shoots Right, Height 6.04 — Weight 195, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL
More was expected out of the 2013 QMJHL’s draft number one overall pick, but he’s slid down draft boards all season long. He put up just 16 goals and 50 points this year. The size is there, the stickhandling and passing skills are there, he even has a decent shot. However, there are some questions if he has the hockey sense to put it all together offensively. There are also major concerns about his skating ability. Roy does play a committed two-way game though and might end up a bottom-six NHL player even with those concerns. He did have a very good tournament at the Under 18s, which raised his stock.
#77 Conor Garland, Right Wing, shoots Right, Height 5.08 — Weight 163, Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL
Undrafted one year ago due to concerns about his height, Garland put up a monster season for Moncton making him hard to ignore again. With 35 goals and 129 points, Garland led the QMJHL in points, and was 27 points ahead of his nearest rival in the scoring race. Garland plays bigger than his size, winning battles on the boards, and controling the puck in the cycle. He is a great playmaker with outstanding stickhandling, great passing, and superb vision. As players like Tyler Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau show there is a place for small offensively talented players in the NHL, Garland should get drafted this year.
#78 Samuel Montembeault, Goalie, Shoots/Catches left, Height 6.03 — Weight 166, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, QMJHL
He started for the Armada this season, and did a good job. Montembeault has the size needed to be a top NHL goalie, and takes full advantage of it by playing well out in his crease. Montembault has quick legs, and plays an effective butterfly style, taking away the bottom portions of the net. He gets side to side quickly and tracks the puck well. Montembault has also shown to be calm and cool under pressure, not reacting badly to a goal against, traffic in his face, or a bad call from a ref. He shows good rebound control for a goaltender his age.
#79 Anthony Cirelli, Centre, shoots Left, Height 6.00 — Weight 160, Oshawa Generals, OHL
Made a real name for himself by scoring two goals, including the overtime winner, in the Memorial Cup final. This ranking though is based on his overall body of work, where he has been an important two-way centre for the Generals all season long. He skates extremely well, and has a non-stop motor that sees him involved in both the offensive and defensive zone. Cirelli has good vision and makes smart plays to teammates, getting them the puck in good areas to create scoring chances. He needs to add more muscle to his frame to play that style at the pro level.
#80 Adam Musil, Centre, shoots Right, Height 6.03 — Weight 202, Red Deer Rebels, WHL
The son of Frantisek Musil, and brother of Oilers prospect David Musil, Adam breaks with family tradition and is a centre instead of a defenceman. He has excellent size, and plays a strong two-way game. The Rebels used him as a checking line centre this year and he took key minutes against top opposition. His best asset is his ability to control the puck down low on the cycle, he has very good stickhandling and puck protection skills, and the ability to grind plays out along the wall. Musil can also finish in close to goal with soft hands, or further out with a hard shot. The big concern here is his skating ability. He must get a lot faster to carve out a good NHL career.
#81 Ethan Bear, Defence, shoots Right, Height 5.11 — Weight 200, Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL
After a solid season in Seattle, he really distinguished himself in helping Team Canada to a bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championships. He was also part of the Canadian team that won gold at the Ivan Hlinka last summer. He may not be the biggest defender out there but that doesn’t stop Bear from playing a very physical game, as he loves to hit, and is very good along the boards and in clearing the front of the net. Bear showed some offense this year, with 13 goals and 38 points in 69 games. His offensive game is very straightforward, he has a cannon of a shot and is not afraid to let it go from the blueline. With the puck on his stick, he is looking to make a quick pass up to the forwards, and then join the rush as a trailer. There is not a lot of flash here, but there is a smart, effective blue liner.
#82 Brendan Warren, Left Wing, shoots Left, Height 6.01 — Weight 191, US NTDP, USHL
Another member of the US NTDP U18 team that was absolutely loaded at forward this year (and could have been loaded on the blueline if Zach Werenski and Noah Hanifin didn’t accelerate their schooling and enter college early). Warren is a solid two way winger. He doesn’t show a lot of flash, but plays a gritty and physical straight line game. Keeps the puck moving to teammates and gets to the front of the net where he can finish with rebounds, and deflections. Has good speed and power in his skating. Will probably never be a first line winger, but could provide good play on the second or third line.
#83 Filip Ahl, Left Wing, shoots Left, Height 6.04 — Weight 211, HV71 Jonkoping, SHL
A Swedish winger who shows very good hockey sense, and the ability to find openings in the defence where he can set up to receive a pass and create a scoring chance. He has great size and the power to win battles in the corners and in front of the net. He drives the net hard and can finish plays when he gets there. He must get faster and improve his consistency to be able to transition to the pro game in North America.
#84 Sebastian Aho, Defence, shoots Left, Height 5.10 — Weight 165, Skelleftea AIK, SHL
In an interesting twist, there are two Sebastian Aho’s available and expected to be picked in this year’s draft. I am higher on the defenceman who was passed over in last year’s draft due to size concerns. He’s shown to be an effective puck mover and powerplay quarterback playing on the Swedish Team at the World Juniors. He is a great skater, and a very good stickhandler who can lead the rush or quarterback plays from the point on the powerplay. The lack of size is still a bit of a concern though as he can be dominated by bigger, stronger forwards.
#85 Vladimir Tkachev, Left Wing, shoots Right, Height 5.10 — Weight 144, Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
After Tkachev was passed over in last year’s draft, the Edmonton Oilers brought him to training camp on a tryout basis. They tried to sign him to an Entry Level Contract, but this was vetoed by the NHL as he had played some games in Europe during the 2013-14 season and would need to re-enter the draft this year. Tkachev is an undersized but highly skilled forward. He is a great stickhandler who has great skating including a strong change of pace, and great agility. If he can add some muscle to his frame we could see him taking the next step and being an offensive producer in the NHL. He does need some work defensively and needs to be more consistent.
Check back friday morning for profiles 86-100.