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.
Bokk is a goal scorer. He has a good arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are hard and accurate. They both also feature a quick release. Bokk’s slap shot and one-timer are also strong. While his shots are good Bokk can also score in tight. He goes to the net and can score with tip-ins, pounce on rebounds, and with the quick hands to bang in passes from teammates. Bokk has outstanding stickhandling ability. He has incredible hands and can make plays in a phone booth. He pairs this with very good vision and passing skills. Bokk has high-end hockey IQ, he always seems to make smart plays with the puck and knows how to get open without it.
Denisenko is extremely dangerous off the rush. He pairs excellent skating ability with the hands to make plays while moving at top speed. His soft hands and excellent stickhandling ability gives him a number of quick dekes and feints that can beat a defender one-on-one. If defenders give him too much space, it opens up passing and shooting lanes and Denisenko is skilled enough to take advantage of the situation. He has outstanding vision and passing skills. He can make a perfect tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. Denisenko has the stickhandling ability and the intelligence to slow down the play and wait for the perfect time to make that pass to his teammate.
Bean has great puck control and combines with his skating skill to elude forecheckers and move the puck into good areas to start the rush. In that way, he can lead the rush himself or make a strong pass to get the transition game going. He shows poise with the puck in the offensive zone, and as mentioned he walks the line well in the offensive zone opening up those passing and shooting lanes. Bean has very good vision and passing skills, able to thread the needle to set up his teammates for good scoring opportunities. He has the poise to control the puck at the blue line and quarterback the power play.
Myers offence has really improved since signing with the Flyers. While he always had a hard slap shot, he had real trouble getting it on the net in the past. Myers corrected that issue and has seen his goal totals increase. His cannon is now a feared weapon on the power play. He also became more poised with the puck, waiting for the play to develop before getting rid of it. Myers uses his agility to walk the line and open up those passing and shooting lanes. He is also able to sneak down from the point and take a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circles. Myers makes smart passes and shows the vision needed to anticipate plays. He finds the open man in the zone and sets up scoring chances.
After missing the first half of the 2017-18 season with a back injury, Vilardi would only play four games in 2018-19 due to the same injury. It was basically a lost season for the talented player. In order to take advantage of that talent, Vilardi will need to stay healthy. Vilardi has a very long reach and excellent puck handling ability. He extends plays, waiting for teammates to get open, before hitting them with a pass. Vilardi has the vision and passing skill to be a solid playmaker, both off the rush and in the cycle game. Vilardi is constantly moving and getting involved in the play. He is extremely gritty and involved in battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Texier is a very good playmaker. His stickhandling is excellent. He can make plays in tight spaces as well as being able to make plays while moving at top speed. His quick movements open up passing lanes. Texier sees the ice extremely well and finds the open man. He can put a pass through tight areas and onto a teammate’s tape. He also has the poise and patience to slow down the play and wait for his teammates to get open. Texier also has a heavy wrist shot and good release. However, he does not always use it enough. He has gotten much better at getting to the dirty areas of the ice.
Heponiemi has outstanding hands. He can make dekes in a phone booth and is extremely dangerous one-on-one as a result. Heponiemi sees plays developing, and makes smart passes. He is an excellent playmaker, who can make tape-to-tape passes through tight openings. He also uses his stickhandling and skating to extend plays, waiting for a teammate to get open. Heponiemi has an accurate wrist shot, with a good release. He has worked on using it more this past year and that has made him harder to predict and more dynamic as a result. Heponiemi is better in the cycle game than one would expect based on his size.
Kaut is a pure goal scorer. His powerful skating ability allows him to drive the net. When he gets there, he has the quick hands to make moves in tight. He can also score by pouncing on rebounds or tipping in shots. Kaut has a very good wrist shot. It is accurate and powerful. He can fool goaltenders from further out with a quick release. Kaut’s snapshot is also above average. He can work on his one-timer though. A smart player, Kaut finds the soft spots in the defence to be open for these shots. Kaut is also a talented playmaker. He anticipates plays well and makes strong passes to teammates.
Kyrou is an excellent playmaker. He has good vision and the ability to extend plays and wait for teammates to get open before feathering them a tape-to-tape pass. He reads the play well and makes good decisions on when to make that pass. Kyrou is especially dangerous on the power play where he can use his skills and vision to take advantage of the extra space and break down the defence from his spot on the half wall. Kyrou’s speed makes him extremely dangerous off the rush, however, he also controls the puck well in the cycle game and works hard down low. Kyrou worked hard to improve his wrist shot over his junior career and it showed in his first pro season. He increased power and his release was quicker.
Tippett is extremely dangerous off the rush. If defenders back off to respect his speed, he can use his excellent wrist shot or snapshot and beat goalies with a quick release. Tippett’s shot is amongst the very best in the OHL. He is a pure sniper who is dangerous anytime he finds open space to get a shot off. He also shows the ability to find soft spots in the defensive zone, and get open to let off a one-timer. Tippett also has excellent hand-eye coordination and can tip in shots from the point. He is not afraid to battle down low and fight for that space in front of the opposition’s net. Tippett improved his playmaking skills, learning to control the puck with his stickhandling, slow things down and wait for a teammate to get open.
Heinola is a very smart player. He reads the play well at both ends of the ice. Heinola starts the transition game with a good first pass. He also has the vision and poise with the puck to quarterback things from the point. Heinola is very creative and willing to put the puck through tight spaces to set up a teammate. He is also a very good stick-handler. Heinola can skate the puck out of his own end and make plays through the neutral zone. He also has the poise to handle the puck and the patience to wait for the opportunity to make plays at the point. Heinola uses his agility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. He has a very good slap shot and a good wrist shot with a quick release.
Shestyorkin is a smaller goaltender who relies on his outstanding reflexes to make saves. His technique is a little unorthodox but he is lightning quick. He never quits on a play and gets across the crease quickly to make a lot of very acrobatic saves. He tracks the puck well. His glove hand is outstanding, taking away the top of the net. He has improved his angles and challenging shooters more than he used to. However, compared to other goalies, Shestyorkin prefers to play deep in his crease. Over the last few years, he has improved his rebound control. Even when he gives up a rebound, Shestyorkin is good at staying square to the puck and being in a position to make the next save.
Offensively, Valimaki’s game has really grown. He carries the puck and leads the rush more often than he did when he first came to North America. However, he is still more likely to start things with a good first pass and getting involved as a trailer. He has an excellent point shot that can be a real weapon on the power play. Valimaki’s slapshot is hard and accurate, and he gets it through to the net. He understands how to keep it low, in order to generate rebounds and tip in opportunities for teammates. Valimaki also has a good wrist shot. It features a quick release. He uses it effectively when pressured at the point, getting the shot off quickly before defenders can shut down shooting lanes. He is very good defensively.
Tolvanen is a pure sniper who scores goals in a variety of different ways. He reads the play extremely well and gets himself into the right position to create a scoring chance. Tolvanen has an outstanding one-timer, with great power and accuracy. He also has a lightning-quick release on his wrist shot. That wrist shot is heavy, and he is also very accurate. It is one of the best shots of any player not in the NHL. Tolvanen has the soft hands to make quick moves and beat defenders with his stick-handling ability. Tolvanen’s snapshot is also deadly. He can fire that vast assortment of shots in stride. He can also bury rebounds and has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections in front of the net as well.
Soderstrom is an elite skater which allows him to play an effective two-way game. His speed is exceptional, in both directions. He gets up to speed quickly, with excellent acceleration and a great first step. He also has very good edgework and agility, allowing him to quickly change directions. With good pivots, he transitions from offence to defence and vice-versa quickly. This also allows him to cover huge areas of ice and makes him tough to beat in one-on-one situations. Soderstrom is strong on his skates allowing him to win battles on the boards and in front of the net at the junior level. However, he is a bit undersized and this becomes more apparent when he plays against men. His low centre of gravity can help going forward, provided he adds more muscle to his frame.
Smith is a very good stick handler. He can lead the rush, but also has the poise to control the puck at the blue line and quarterback the play. He has excellent vision and reads the play extremely well. Smith is patient and poised. He makes smart passes to teammates, giving them good scoring chances. He also works well as a trailer, reading the play and finding the open ice to create an offensive threat. Smith almost always seems to make the right play with the puck. Smith is a very good passer and can set things up on the rush or from the point on the power play. He also has a good wrist shot with an outstanding release.
Already at six-foot-three and only recently had his 18th birthday, Knight has the type of size NHL teams are looking for in goalie prospects as well as room to grow. Knight takes advantage of that size by coming well out of his net and challenging shooters. He keeps his back straight and maximizes his size to take away the top of the net when facing a shooter. His rebound control is especially well developed for his age. There is room for refinement, but he is already well ahead of the normal curve for a prospect. Knight has powerful legs which take away the bottom of the net. He also gets across the crease quickly and under control. His puck tracking is very good for his age.
Romanov has offensive skills. He is a smart player who sees the ice well and makes smart plays with the puck. He is also a very good passer, starting the transition game or setting up in the zone on the power play. Romanov is poised with the puck and uses his stick-handling and lateral movement to open up passing and shooting lanes. Even in limited KHL minutes, Romanov has impressed in the defensive end of the ice maintaining good gap control and keeping his opponents to the perimeter. He is willing to play a physical game and is always looking to throw a big hit.
Seider pairs excellent size at 6-foot-4 with strong skating ability. Seider moves the puck up the ice with good stickhandling and quick skating, as well as the ability to make a strong first pass. He transitions the puck out of his zone and is able to carry it effectively through the neutral zone. He is even willing to lead the rush at times. The stickhandling and poise with the puck on his stick are also useful on the power play. Moritz Seider plays a physical game, looking to throw a big hit if an opposing forward challenges him down his side of the ice. However, he can get himself out of position looking for those hits and must become more disciplined.
Robertson is a pure goal scorer. He has excellent hand-eye coordination and scores goals in tight to the net with tip-ins, one-timing passes and pouncing on rebounds. He uses his skating ability to take defenders wide and drive the net, where he can finish with his soft hands. Robertson also has a very good wrist shot, which is accurate and features a quick release. He manages to find soft spots in the defence and get open to allow teammates to set him up. He is also a good playmaker, with good vision and passing skills. Robertson uses his body well to protect the puck and work the cycle game down low. He can extend plays in the cycle and fight off hits and battle through hooks and holds.
Top NHL Prospects Main Photo:
MUNICH, GERMANY – APRIL 20: Moritz Seider of the Adler Mannheim during the game between the EHC Red Bull Muenchen and the Adler Mannheim at the Olympia-Eisstadion on April 20, 2019, in Munich, Germany. (Photo by City-Press via Getty Images)