Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf NHL Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top NHL prospects. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Top 100 NHL Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at NHL prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. The cut-off for what is or isn’t considered one of our NHL prospects is 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Top NHL Prospects
After going through each team’s top 10 NHL prospects, and then ranking every organization in the NHL, we now bring you our top 100 NHL Prospects. This was a very difficult list to compile, and there are a number of players who barely missed the cut. There is so much talent coming into the league, hockey fans have a lot to look forward too. With that said, let the debates begin.
One Note, Clicking the Player Name will take you to the team’s NHL prospects page, or his individual draft scouting report.
HMs: Alex Nedeljkovic, Nick Merkley, Evan Barrett, Isaac Ratcliffe, Lassi Thomson, Denis Gurianov, Jakob Pelletier, Alex Vlasic, Victor Olofsson, Arthur Kaliyev, Jesse Ylonen, Josh Mahura, Bobby Brink, Connor McMichael, Caleb Jones, Jett Woo, Jimmy Schuldt, Mitch Reinke, Pavel Dorofeyev, MacKenzie Blackwood, Samuel Poulin, Morgan Geekie, Philip Tomasino, Nicolas Beaudin, Alexander Khovanov, Jared McIsaac, Nolan Foote, Liam Foudy, Sebastian Aho,
Alexeyev has good vision and passing skills. He can start the play with a good pass out of his own end, as well as quarterback the play from the blue line. Alexeyev has the skating ability to retrieve dump-ins and loose pucks as well as the poise to move it out of danger in his own end. He can lead the rush but also makes smart passes to get the transition game going.
Addison is an outstanding skater. This helps him to play a two-way game, and be effective at both ends of the ice. He is one of the fastest skaters in junior, and shows this both forwards and backwards. His edgework, agility and pivots are also elite. Addison covers a ton of ice. He can transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa.
An outstanding stick-handler, Wahlstrom has an impressive array of moves. He isn’t afraid to use them in traffic either. He also has a very good wrist shot and outstanding release. Wahlstrom is a pure sniper with an excellent snapshot and one-timer as well. Wahlstrom takes a ton of shots, from high danger areas, and puts the puck in the back of the net.
At 6-foot-4, Luukkonen has the ideal size that NHL teams are currently looking for. He also gets out well, cutting down angles and taking up a lot of the net. Luukkonen has strong legs, giving him an excellent push off the post. He gets side-to-side extremely quick. Luukkonen keeps his shoulders square to the puck when moving across the crease, and when tracking rebounds. He is very good down low, with very quick legs. Luukkonen is a butterfly goalie who gets in-and-out of his stance extremely quickly. With his size, he still has his shoulders above the crossbar, even when playing in the butterfly.
Boqvist combines his excellent skating ability, with the quick hands to stick handle in a phone booth. His dekes, feints, and puck protection make him a real handful for defenders. When Boqvist gets a step on a defender, he drives to the net looking to make a play. He is also a strong playmaker, using his vision to find open teammates and his lateral agility to open up passing lanes.
Lavoie has the size and skills to be a power winger. He is also a natural sniper. Lavoie has an excellent wrist shot and quick release. He also has a good snapshot and a hard slap shot. Lavoie is also good at getting to the front of the net where he has soft hands and good hand-eye coordination to finish in close to the net with rebounds and tip-ins. He also has good stickhandling ability and protects the puck well. He handles the puck well, even while moving at full speed. This allows him to cycle the puck down low and control the pace of the game. If an opportunity presents itself he can take the puck to the front of the net.
Bracco also has great hands and this combined with his skating makes him extremely dangerous off the rush. He sees the ice very well and has strong passing skills, making him an ideal playmaker. Defenders must respect his ability to take them wide and cut to the net, and when they back off he can use the increased time and space to create passing lanes and find open teammates. Bracco also has excellent hockey sense. He makes smart plays with the puck on his stick and is able to find open areas without it. He is dynamic on the power play.
After a huge 2017-18 season with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Timmins was supposed to make his pro debut last season. However, a concussion suffered in Game 5 of the 2018 OHL Final cost him the entire 2018-19 season. Timmins is now cleared to play and should be in the AHL this season. He is a strong two-way player.
Samuelsson likes to join the rush as a trailer, looking to add extra offence. However, he is not going to lead the rush very often. At the point, he has a good slap shot, but it is not a cannon either. Samuelsson has a knack of getting it on the net, even with traffic and facing pressure at the point. He also has a very good wrist shot, and release. Samuelsson is a big defenceman, who plays a physical game in his own end of the rink. He throws big hits if an attacker comes down his side of the ice, and also battles hard in the corners and in front of the net.
Wilde has an absolute bomb of a point shot and understands how to keep it low and on the net to give teammates an opportunity for a deflection or rebound. This makes him a real threat from the point. He can also get it done in a variety of ways with an excellent wrist shot, and a strong snapshot. His shots all feature a quick release as well. He loves to sneak down from the point and let his shot go from the top of the faceoff circles. Wilde is able to get his shot off, and on net despite traffic.
Studnicka is a very smart player. He is a strong playmaker. Studnicka has excellent vision and is able to make tough passes to teammates. He moves the puck smartly, putting it in good spaces where a linemate can race onto it if he doesn’t have another play. He is a decent stick handler who protects the puck well down low and in the cycle game. Studnicka can also score goals. He has a good wrist shot, with power and accuracy.
Pilut has excellent vision and passing skills. He can move the puck quickly, both through the first pass out of the zone and in quarterbacking the play at the opponent’s blue line. Strong stickhandling and poise at the line allow him to make those passes. By using his lateral movement as well as a quick feint with his stick, he is able to open up passing lanes and get the puck to teammates. He is also able to open up shooting lanes to get his shot on the net.
Veleno has tremendous speed and outstanding acceleration. It is his skating skill that truly gave him a leg up on the competition and earned him an exceptional player status as a 15-year-old in the QMJHL. He is silky smooth on his skates. Veleno has the ability to take a defender wide and cut to the net. He also has the agility and edgework to beat a defender in a one-on-one situation off the rush. Veleno is strong on the puck and works well down low and in the cycle game at the junior level. He has shown increased core strength in recent years, though that will be tested playing against men at the pro level this season.
Niku has a powerful shot from the point. He uses his lateral agility to walk the line, opening up shooting lanes to get that shot off. Niku understands how to keep it low, and on the net, in order to give teammates opportunities for rebounds, deflections and tips. He also sneaks down from the point to take a wrist shot. It is powerful and has a quick release. He is also a strong playmaker. Niku sees the ice well and has good passing skills. He can skate the puck out of danger in his own end, as well as start the transition with a good first pass.
Merkley is the one Sharks prospect with true superstar potential. He is absolutely dynamic offensively. However, he also has some big off-ice issues. There were rumours of issues with coaches during his draft year. The fact that the Guelph Storm traded him despite his offensive numbers was a big red flag at the OHL trade deadline. Now the Peterborough Petes haven’t even put him on the team’s training camp roster and have indicated that they are looking to trade him before he returns from Sharks training camp. There are also rumours that if not traded in the OHL, the Sharks would keep him with the NHL club.
The NCAA Goaltender of the Year, Primeau has good size and he takes full advantage of it. He comes out of his crease to challenge shooters and maximize the amount of space that he takes up. Primeau is a strong skater, who can back up quickly, or get post-to-post in a flash. Good butterfly technique and quick legs take away the bottom of the net. He has very good rebound control for a 19-year-old goalie. While this can improve, he’s already ahead of where most goalies are at his age. When a rebound is given up, Primeau has a knack for staying square to the puck and being ready for the next shot.
Olli Juolevi helps to quarterback the power play with good skating ability, a good slap shot, strong wrist shot, and very good passing skills. He has excellent vision and he shows the smarts to make the smart play, whether it is in running the point on that powerplay or in starting the rush out of his end of the rink. Juolevi walks the line well and opens up passing and shooting lanes with his agility and poise with the puck on his stick. He understands how to keep the puck low and on the net in order to maximize his teammates’ ability to get tip-ins, screens, and rebounds. In addition to making good breakout passes, he has the skating and puck handling skills to avoid the forecheck and start the play that way as well.
Benson is a strong skater and plays a very gritty and physical game. Benson does well in protecting the puck in the cycle game. His excellent lower body strength gives him good balance, and he has the frame to protect the puck in battles. Benson can hurt the opposition in a variety of ways. He is willing to stand in front of the net and take punishment to get tip-ins and rebounds. Benson gets in quickly on the forecheck and forces defenders to make plays quickly or be plastered into the boards. When the puck does get turned over, he gets himself into good positions to let go of his strong wrist shot or a blistering one-timer. He can also play the role of playmaker.
Harley is a strong two-way defender with good size and skating ability. He has very good speed in both directions. His first few steps and acceleration are outstanding. Harley uses this ability to change speeds to move the puck out of his zone and make plays through the neutral zone. Combine this with his good agility, edgework, and pivots and his skating allows Harley to play a strong game in both ends of the ice. He can beat defenders off the rush, as well as walk the line in the offensive zone to open up shooting and passing lanes. His balance is good and he is strong on the puck. This should improve as he continues to add muscle to his frame.
Comtois is a goal scorer. He has an excellent array of shots, with good power and accuracy on his wrist shot, snapshot and slap shot. A sniper, Comtois has a very quick release that can handcuff opposing goaltenders. While he has the shot needed to score from the slot and face-off circles, he also has the soft hands to beat a goalie in close to the net. Comtois can score goals with deflections, rebounds, and quickly burying a pass in tight. He even has a powerful backhand. He can also drive the net off the rush, or when working in the offensive zone. Comtois also has decent vision and passing skills. He can extend plays by using his stick handling as well as his body to protect the puck and control the play on the boards.
NHL Prospects Main Photo:
PETERBOROUGH, ON – MARCH 28: Ryan Merkley #25 of the Peterborough Petes skates the puck up ice against the Oshawa Generals during Game Four of the Eastern Conference OHL QuarterFinals at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on March 28, 2019, in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The Generals defeated the Petes 5-2 to take a 3-1 series lead. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)