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 continues.
December Edition: 2020 NHL Draft Scouting Reports And Rankings Part 6
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.
26.) Topi Niemela, Right Defence, Karpat, 6’0″ 163 lbs
Niemela has advanced quickly up the ranks, as the 17-year-old defenceman is playing for Karpat in Finland’s top men’s league. He’s been eased into the league, with limited minutes each night (averaging just under 14 minutes a night), but still has a goal and three assists in 24 games this season. He has been part of Finland’s teams on the international stage, playing in the summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, last spring’s IIHF Under-18, and winning silver at last year’s Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.
Niemela has very good mobility, which allows him to play a strong two-way game. He has good gap control and is strong positionally, leading to a strong defensive game. As he continues to add weight to his frame he will become even better. He moves the puck out of the zone quickly with a good first pass, as well as the ability to skate the puck out danger with good stickhandling ability. Niemela could be a bit more creative with the puck though. He makes the smart and simple play more often than not.
27.) Thomas Bordeleau, Centre, US NTDP, 5’9″ 179 lbs
The son of former NHLer, Sebastien Bordeleau, Thomas has put up 10 goals and 25 points in 28 games for the US NTDP this season. He had 16 goals and 39 points in 56 games with the U17 team last season. He had four points in five games for the US at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Bordeleau is committed to the University of Michigan next season.
While Bordeleau lacks height, he does have a well-developed, muscular frame that allows him to be heavily involved in all areas of the ice. He has very good balance and is tough to knock off the puck, allowing him to win battles on the boards as well as play in the dangerous areas of the ice. Bordeleau has an outstanding arsenal of shots, with a good wrist shot, snap shot, slap shot, and even backhand. He gets those shots off quickly, with an outstanding release. While he loves to shoot, he can also take on the role of playmaker. He has excellent vision and the skill to move the puck through tight lanes.
28.) Jan Mysak, Left Wing, HC Litvinov, 6’0″ 176 lbs,
Drafted by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the CHL Import Draft, Mysak opted to remain in the Czech Republic. In 26 games with HC Litvinov in the top Czech men’s league, Mysak has put up five goals and nine assists this season. The 17-year-old forward has also made the Czech team for next week’s World Junior tournament. Last season he scored three points in five games at the IIHF Under 18, as well as two points at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Mysak added two goals in four games at this summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Mysak has an excellent shot and quick release. It is deadly accurate. He gets himself into good positions without the puck, finding open space in the defence and setting himself up to let go of that shot. He also has the hands and stickhandling skills to slow down the play or speed it, helping his linemates to get open and making plays. One weakness though is his speed. He needs to work on lengthening his stride to improve speed and power.
29.) Jean-Luc Foudy, Centre, Windsor Spitfires, 5’11” 168 lbs
The younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Liam Foudy, Jean-Luc Foudy was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft. Last season, he put up eight goals and 41 assists for 49 points in 63 games. He led all OHL Rookies in assists. Foudy added one assist in four playoff games. He represented Team Canada Black at the U-17 WHC putting up a goal and three assists for four points in five tournament games. This season, he put up four points in five games in winning a silver medal with Team Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He also took that strong play into the new OHL season with 11 goals and 27 points in 30 games.
Foudy is amongst the fastest players in the OHL, with quick acceleration and outstanding edgework. Foudy can generate breakaways by getting behind the defence. He will need to work on improving his hands and his shooting to pair with that skating ability and become a truly dynamic offensive threat. Foudy is an effective playmaker with good vision and passing skills. Foudy makes quick cuts and changes speed very well. This opens passing lanes and changes angles. With good vision and passing skills, he is able to set up teammates for high-quality chances. He is also well-advanced defensively for a 17-year-old.
30.) Jack Thompson, Right Defence, Sudbury Wolves, 6’1″ 172 lbs
A second-round pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, Thompson has seen his offensive game take off in his second year in the league. After scoring six goals and 16 points in 52 games as an OHL rookie, he already has put up nine goals and 20 points in just 34 games this year. He is seeing increased ice time in his second year in the league. Thompson thrives with this added responsibility. He also played for Team Canada Red at the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge last year, setting himself up to compete for spots on international teams going forward.
Thompson plays a strong two-way game based on his excellent mobility. He skates well and loves to get forward, joining the rush and even leading it at times through the neutral zone. He is also able to pinch in from the blue line and still get back defensively. Thompson has an excellent slap shot that is a real weapon on the power play. Good lateral agility makes him tough to beat in one-on-one situations, and he uses an active stick to knock pucks away from defenders. He is much improved in his work along the boards and clearing the front of the net this season, and should continue to get better as he matures and gets stronger.
31.) Antonio Stranges, Centre/Left Wing, London Knights, 5’10” 170 lbs
Stranges went in the second round of the 2018 OHL Draft. Most analysts predicted he would play for the US NTDP before heading to the University of Michigan. Instead, the London Knights took a risk on Stranges, and it paid off as he joined the team. He put up 13 goals and 34 points in 66 games in limited ice time as a rookie last season. This year, his offensive numbers have improved with 14 goals and 26 points in 31 games so far.
Stranges has outstanding edgework. He uses his quick cuts and changes in direction to make defenders look silly. He pairs this with very good puckhandling skills. Stranges does a lot of things well. He can score goals with his excellent shot and a quick release. Stranges can also play the role of facilitator and make plays for his teammates, utilizing excellent vision and passing skills. He needs to work on his commitment to playing in his own end though. A lack of effort in his own end has become an issue with the Knights coaches at times. This led to reduced ice time in some games.
2020 NHL Draft Main Photo:
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