Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Luke Evangelista.
The London Knights have an impressive history of developing NHL talent in recent years. Under the leadership of Mark Hunter and Dale Hunter, they also have a reputation for slowly developing their young talent. For this reason, when 17-year-old winger Luke Evangelista earned a big role on this year’s team it made prospect watchers take notice. Evangelista made the most of the opportunities he was given. He put up 23 goals and 38 assists for 61 points in 62 games. While Evangelista did get plenty of even-strength time, he did not get much on the power play. Only two of his 61 points came with the man advantage.
Evangelista was the 14th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft. He did not make a big impression in his rookie season though, scoring just two assists in 27 games. He was a scratch throughout the Knights 2019 playoff run. Evangelista also played for Team Canada White at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored just one assist in five tournament games. Evangelista comes from a hockey family. His cousin is Toronto Maple Leafs president, and Hockey Hall of Fame Player, Brendan Shanahan.
Luke Evangelista Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born February 21st, 2002 — Oakville, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 165 lbs [180 cm/75 kg]
Evangelista is a good skater, but not a burner. His top-end speed is above average and he reaches that speed quickly enough with decent acceleration. He is more quick than fast though, with a very good first step. Evangelista also has outstanding edgework and agility. His cuts and changes of direction are very sharp and can cause issues for defenders trying to stay in front of him. Evangelista has a low centre of gravity and good balance. He is tough to knock off the puck. He can be even better in the corners though, and this should happen as he adds more muscle to his frame.
Evangelista is an extremely smart player. He has a real knack for making the right play with the puck on his stick, whether that is a safe pass to keep the cycle game going, or if a teammate is open in a scoring area getting the puck to him with a tape-to-tape pass. Evangelista extends plays by protecting the puck well and controlling it down low. He is a solid stickhandler. He is also not afraid to take the puck to the front of the net if he gets an opportunity. When the puck is not on his stick, Evangelista finds ways to get open and keeps his feet moving, ready to receive a pass and quickly make a play.
Evangelista scores most of his goals in tight to the net, utilizing his quick hands to bang in a rebound, one-time a pass from a teammate, or to deflect a shot. From further out, he gets his shot off quickly and is very accurate which can cause issues for goaltenders. However, Evangelista needs to add a bit more power. This is another area that can be even better as his body develops. Evangelista is willing to forecheck and chase down loose pucks to create chances. While he gets involved on the boards and battles for pucks, he is not really a big hitter.
Evangelista is a solid defensive player and had plenty of responsibility on the Knights penalty-kill units this season. He provides good backpressure, helping the defence to defend against the rush. He is also willing to support the defence down low, containing his man against the cycle. Evangelista uses his high-end hockey IQ to diagnose plays and put himself into the right positions to cut down passing and shooting lanes. His active stick can intercept passes as well as knock the puck off of an opponent’s stick. Once a turnover is created Evangelista can transition quickly to create offensive opportunities. He is not much of a physical presence out there, though his frame is really lanky. It might be possible to further develop this aspect of his game as he matures physically.
Projection and Comparison
Evangelista could become a top-six winger capable of providing value at both ends of the ice. He plays the type of smart and mature game that coaches will love. He also brings a high-end work ethic to the table. Evangelista likely needs another couple of years of development and increasing his frame in the OHL, and there is no better place for him to get that than with London. His game is reminiscent of Mark Stone, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Luke Evangelista that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Luke Evangelista Main Photo:
WINDSOR, ONTARIO – FEBRUARY 20: Forward Luke Evangelista #14 of the London Knights skates against the Windsor Spitfires at WFCU Centre on February 20, 2020, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)