Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column looking at hockey’s stars. Over the next few days we will be previewing the 2016 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 CHL season a good eight weeks old, a month or so of NCAA hockey, plenty of games for the USNTDP, the Ivan Hlinka tournament, an international break in Europe, and the Subway Series all being played since we last updated our draft rankings, we have gotten a decent overview of what some of the biggest prospects for the 2016 draft are doing this year.
That said, as a staff we haven’t seen every player yet—it’s quite simply not possible this early in the season. If there is someone you feel is an obvious name that has been left out, we’ll do our best to get a look before our final rankings come out in April, May, and our final NHL Draft rankings in June. The group we haven’t seen a lot of are European prospects who, for whatever reason, haven’t had much exposure on the international stage. With the World Juniors, Five Nations, and the Under-18 all to come later in the year, we should get a better look at most.
2016 NHL Draft Rankings November 16-20
16.) Tyson Jost, Centre, Penticton Vees, 6’0″, 195 lbs: Drafted by the Everett Silvertips in the WHL, Jost has spurned the team and instead will head to North Dakota next season. In the meantime he’s lighting things up in Junior A with 16 goals and 38 points in 18 games. He has great hands, and the ability to stickhandle in a phone booth. Jost protects the puck extremely well, extends plays, and can feather a pass through a small opening, putting it tape-to-tape for a teammate. Jost also has a very quick release on his shot, which helps him to fool goalies. He’s a shifty skater, with good acceleration and edgework.
17.) Jake Bean, Defence, Calgary Hitmen, 6’0″, 165 lbs: Its rare to see 16-year-olds play big minutes in all situations, but that was Bean last year. He played on the powerplay, on the penalty kill, and took a top four role at even strength. He’s continuing his form this season, playing big minutes with 18 points in 20 games to start the season. Bean shows outstanding skating, with good speed, and outstanding edgework and agility. He has great puck control, combined with his skating skill to elude forecheckers, can move the puck into good areas to start the rush. He walks the line well in the offensive zone opening up passing and shooting lanes. His shot could be harder, and he can play a more physical game if he can add some muscle this year. He’s got good height, but needs to add strength to his frame.
18.) Tyler Benson, Left Wing, Vancouver Giants, 6’0″ 205 lbs: The first overall pick of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Benson has shown to be a strong skater who plays a very gritty and physical game. His speed helps him to get in quickly on the forecheck and force defenders to make plays quickly or be plastered into the boards. When the puck does get turned over, he gets himself into good position to let go a strong wrist shot or a blistering one-timer. He has a great first step, which helps him to get to loose pucks, or to transition quickly when a teammate creates a turnover in his own zone, creating breakaways and odd-man rushes. Benson’s defensive game is also ahead of the curve for a 17-year-old. After scoring five points in four games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and bringing home a gold medal, Benson missed the start of the season with surgery to remove a cyst on his tailbone. He’s had a bit of a slow start since his return with just five points in 10 games, but he’s got too much talent for this to linger and I expect to see him lighting up the score sheet soon.
19.) Sam Steel, Centre, Regina Pats, 5’11” 170 lbs: Steel is an outstanding skater with strong speed, great acceleration, and outstanding agility. Once he gets a step on a defender, he’s gone. He has outstanding stick-handling ability and very soft hands. Steel also has a good wrist shot, a quick release, and the vision and passing skills to be an offensive dynamo. He has outstanding hockey IQ, and thinks the game a step ahead of others. He seems to always make the smart play with the puck on his stick. Steel is also a very hard worker, who constantly keeps his feet moving and is involved in every aspect of the play. Has a bit of peskiness to go along with that high end skill. He’s put up 18 points in 18 games to start the season.
20.) Chad Krys, Defence, US NTDP, 5’11” 185 lbs: Krys had a fantastic season last year with the US NTDP. He played so well with the Under-17 program that he was called up to the Under-18 team for the second half of the season, and represented the U.S. at the Under-18 World Championships, winning gold. He’s had a solid start to the year with 13 points in 16 games for the NTDP. Krys is a quick skater, with good puckhandling ability. This ability allows him to avoid forecheckers, and skate the puck out of danger. He can also lead the rush, creating offesnsive chances with a good vision, passing skills, and an accurate wrist shot. Krys has very good agility, allowing him to walk the line and create passing and shooting lanes on the powerplay. Defensively he has good instincts, and solid positional play, but must get stronger and play more physical in his own end.