Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Prospects”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2019-20 Articles Click here. We will be sure to bring you our comprehensive coverage of the 2020 NHL Draft. Today, our 2020 NHL Draft Scouting Reports and Rankings, December Edition begins.
December Edition: 2020 NHL Draft Scouting Reports And Rankings Part 3
With the CHL season nearly three months old, over two months of NCAA hockey, plenty of games for the US National Team Development Program, the Gretzky-Hlinka Tournament, an international break in Europe, and the Canada-Russia 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 2020 NHL 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 an obvious name left out, we’ll do our best to get a look at him before the February rankings; as well as before our final rankings that go from April through June.
The group we haven’t seen a lot of our 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 of those players.
11.) Dylan Holloway, Centre/Left Wing, Wisconsin Badgers, 6’0″ 192 lbs
A late 2001 birthday, Holloway has put up three goals and seven points in 17 games as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin. He spent last season with the Okotoks Oilers in the AJHL where he was named the league’s most valuable player. Holloway scored 40 goals and 88 points in 53 games. He also added nine goals and 13 points in 11 playoff games. Holloway has also represented Canada internationally, putting up three points in five games and winning gold at last year’s Ivan Hlinka. He has also played at the last two World Junior A Hockey Championships, winning gold in the December 2017 tourney. Holloway also played at the last IIHF Under-18 and at the 2017 Under-17 WHC.
Holloway is another excellent skater. His stickhandling ability is also top-notch allowing him to make plays at top speed. This makes him extremely dangerous off the rush. Holloway’s speed forces defenders to back off, as he can get by them on the outside and cut to the net. This opens up both passing and shooting lanes. He can fire a quick wrist shot on goal using the defender as a screen. His shot is heavy and accurate. He also can find a pass to an open teammate to set up a scoring chance. A smart two-way player, Holloway positions himself well and creates turnovers with his active stick and hard work in all three zones.
12.) Noel Gunler, Left Wing/Right Wing, Lulea HF, 6’2″ 174 lbs
Last season, Gunler got in 15 games at the SHL level, putting up two goals and three assists for five points while playing in the men’s league as a 17-year-old. This year, he’s played in 27 games with a goal and eight points. He got his chance after ripping up the J20 league. Gunler scored 27 goals and 19 assists for 46 points in just 31 games last season. He also added three points in three playoff games. Gunler is another pure sniper. He can score in a variety of ways. He has a heavy wrist shot with a good release; an excellent slap shot and one-timer; a quick and accurate snapshot; a strong backhand; the hands to deke a goaltender as well as to put the puck through tight spaces; and the hand-eye coordination to get tip-ins and rebounds.
Gunler is also a good playmaker. His quick hands change angles and create passing lanes. He is strong on the puck and protects it on the cycle, with the patience to slow down the play and allow his teammates to get open. Once they do he has the vision to find them and the skills to get them the puck. Gunler needs to work harder in the defensive end of the ice though. He could also work on his first few steps, however, his skating is very good once he gets going. Improving that start would move him up the Draft rankings.
13.) Justin Barron, Right Defence, Halifax Mooseheads, 6’2″ 192 lbs
A late-2001 birthday, Barron had an impressive sophomore campaign with the Halifax Mooseheads. He put up nine goals and 41 points in 68 games. Barron also added two goals and 13 points in 23 playoff games as the Mooseheads advanced to the QMJHL final and one point in four games as they went to the final of the Memorial Cup. He has also impressed internationally, with five points in five games at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, winning a gold medal. He also won a silver medal at the 2017 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. This season, Baron has put up four goals and 17 points in 27 games for Halifax.
Barron is an outstanding skater, and this helps him to play a strong two-way game. He gets around the ice quickly and can join the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still get back defensively. Barron can make a smart first pass to start the transition or he can use his strong skating and stickhandling to lead the rush himself. He sees the ice well and makes good decisions with the puck. Barron also has a good point shot. He can also sneak down to the faceoff circles and let go of his wrist shot. Barron plays a disciplined defensive game and his skating helps him defend one-on-one situations. His excellent agility and edgework allow him to maintain good gap control.
14.) Dawson Mercer, Right Wing, Drummondville Voltigeurs, 6’0″ 172 lbs
The eighth overall pick of the 2017 QMJHL Draft, Mercer put up 30 goals and 64 points in 68 games last season. An alternate captain in Drummondville, Mercer has improved on those totals early this season He has 18 goals and 42 points in 26 games so far. Mercer is currently with Team Canada at their World Junior Camp, one of 24 remaining players for what will be a 23-man final roster (though Canada hopes NHLers Kirby Dach and Noah Dobson could be last-minute additions to the roster).
Mercer is a very good skater, who always keeps his feet moving and this helps him play a 200-foot game. He is quick on the forecheck, pressuring opposing defenders and creating turnovers. He is also able to get back and support the defence down low. Mercer has very good hands and can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. His speed and agility allow him to take a defender wide and cut back to the front of the net. He can score goals with an excellent wrist shot. If defenders back off to defend against his speed, he has the smarts to use the defenceman as a screen and put that wrist shot on net with a quick release.
15.) Braden Schneider, Defence, Brandon Wheat Kings, 6’2″ 187 lbs
Schneider played eight games for Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championships last spring. The late-2001 birthdate defender had 24 points in 58 games last season. He has started strong this season with three goals and 22 points in 30 games for the Wheat Kings.
Schneider is a strong skater who handles the puck well. He can skate it out of danger and make plays in the neutral zone. Schneider is also a good passer who starts the transition game or can play the point in the offensive zone. However, he needs some work on his slap shot. Schneider is effective at sneaking in and setting up at the top of the faceoff circle and letting go a wrist shot with a quick release. Defensively, he has good positioning and gap control. He defends well against both the rush and the cycle game. Schneider is willing to play physical but is not one to get out of position looking for a big hit. Instead, he is good at battling in the corners and in front of the net.
2020 NHL Draft Scouting Reports Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images