Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson 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”! Today we bring you the next batch of mini scouting reports.
2023 NHL Draft Scouting Reports
71.) Easton Cowan, Center, London Knights, OHL
Cowan is a 5’10” and 170-pound centre who produced 20 goals and 33 assists for 53 points this season with the Knights in 68 games. This was his first season in the OHL, as he has a May birthdate, and is a 2005-born prospect, making him one of the youngest in the class. Cowan is a creative playmaker with a strong vision and solid stickhandling skills. He’s had an excellent season in transition, as one of the most heavily leaned on to move the puck for his team. Cowan has an excellent motor as well, making him a pain to play against at times. Working on his skating and defensive game, as well as rounding out the rest of his offensive game, is what he needs to make it to the next level. Currently, he projects as a bottom-six energy player with a scoring upside.
72.) Etienne Morin, Left-Handed Defenseman, Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL
Morin, who stands at 6’0” and 183 pounds, is a bit of a smaller defender, but that has not stopped him in the slightest. This season, he exploded offensively, with 21 goals and 51 assists for 72 points in 67 contests, as a defenseman. Last season, playing for Moncton, he managed to produce eight goals and 25 assists for 33 points, a solid stat line for a defender. But despite the production, Morin doesn’t exactly possess the best raw skill. His shot is decent and so is his ability to create plays, but neither stands out. Meanwhile, he is average at best in his own end, with his best trait being his motor and a bit of physicality. He needs to bulk up, work on his defensive game, and round out his offensive game a bit more. Morin projects as a Shayne Gostisbehere gadget-type defender with an offensively focused style.
73.) Ryan Fine, Forward, USNTDP Juniors, USHL/NTDP Leagues
Fine is a smaller forward, standing at 5’9” and 183 pounds. He’s also not exactly highly rated by other outlets or experts, with the highest public ranking on Elite Prospects being 81st overall by Dobber Prospects. Meanwhile, the rest are 83rd through 159th. With him being a potential draft selection between the third and fifth rounds, or later, why is Last Word higher on him? Fine flashes some skill in the offensive zone, and knows how to attack the middle with his passing. He can make some really impressive passes at times, showing strong awareness and vision. But the best quality is his never-quit motor, generating chaos in all three zones. Continuing to refine his skating and overall game to be less chaotic, he could be a buzzsaw on a team’s bottom six.
74.) Tyler Duke, Left-Handed Defenseman, Ohio State Uni., NCAA
Duke went undrafted last season, after being one of the youngest players in the class with a summer birthday. He’s hoping the 2023 NHL draft will be different for him. But, the year prior, he played for the USNTDP, and scored 18 points in 54 total games. This year, joining Ohio State, he managed to produce 12 points in 40 games. While that doesn’t stand out, the fact he almost matched his NTDP numbers in less games at a much higher level, shows a positive step. He’s ranked in the top-100 by just one other site; 99th on the Dobber Prospects board. The biggest negative in Duke’s game is his size, as he’s just 5’9” and 179 pounds. Despite that, he possesses strong offensive traits, flashing awareness both with and without the puck, with a solid shot and good vision. Additionally, he is solid transitionally and in his own end, showing a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none skill set. Bulking up, rounding out his game as a whole, and becoming a better skater could open a chance for him to be a solid bottom-four two-way defender. But, it’s a risk.
75.) Alexander Rykov, Right Wing, Chelyabinsk, Russian Leagues
Rykov had an interesting season, playing between three Russian leagues this year, and only totalling 29 games. The 5’11” and 170 pound winger played three MHL games (two points), six KHL games (no points) and 20 VHL games (11 points). It’s tough to produce when you keep changing teams and leagues. He still flashed solid offensive zone awareness, with good vision and decent off-puck abilities. His motor and defensive game are his strengths, but again, he isn’t a massive presence in those areas either. He’s overall a solid player, but doesn’t necessarily stand out. Could be a solid, well-balanced bottom-six winger in the future.
76.) Lenni Hameenaho, Right Wing/Centre, Assat, Liiga
Hameenaho is the biggest player on this list thus far, at 6’1” and 185 pounds, and is also one of the highest rated on public spheres. His consolidated rankings on Elite Prospects places him at 54th overall. That includes one first-round inclusion (31st by The Hockey News). Playing against men in Finland, Hameenaho produced nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 51 games. On the offensive end, he uses his smarts to find open space for a teammate to find him, and uses his accurate shot as a threat. Additionally, he is a solid piece on the defensive end, showing an excellent work ethic and willingness to engage defensively. However, his shot needs more power, and his playmaking needs a lot of work. Additionally, he needs to refine his skating. Currently, he projects as a bottom-six forward who can take stricter matchups in the future.
77.) Andrew Strathmann, Left-Handed Defenseman, Youngstown Phantoms, USHL
Playing in the USHL, Strathmann managed a decent statline. Scoring just three times on his own, he added 35 assists to finish with 38 points across 56 games. The 5’11” and 190-pound defenseman is ranked between 47th and 79th, placing him between the second and third rounds of the 2023 NHL draft. Strathmann is an offensively inclined puck-mover. He willingly jumps up into the rush or into the offensive zone to open a passing lane for a teammate. His shot is decent, and he is an effective passer, limiting turnovers for the most part. But the offensive upside is there. However, his defensive game needs work. If he can improve his skating a tad and work on his defensive game, he could be a solid middle-pair defender.
78.) Mathieu Cataford, Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
Cataford, playing in the QMJHL, had a big season for offensive production. With that, the 5’11” and 187 pound winger has been placed between 39th and 81st overall by public outlets and experts. That places him between the second and third round. Now, that offensive production that was mentioned earlier, was impressive. Cataford potted 31 goals and 44 assists for 75 points in 68 games, placing him above a point-per-game pace. Cataford has a solid shot with a good sense on how to get open to utilize it. He’s also flashed some playmaking skills, but it’s been inconsistent. Meanwhile, he is a strong presence in the defensive end. He looks like a guy who could play some minutes in a fourth line role with some underrated offensive skills.
79.) Albert Wikman, Left-Handed Defenseman, Farjestad, Swedish Leagues
Wikman got the chance to play against men in Sweden this past season. The 6’1” and 198 pound defender displayed his ability to withstand playing against men physically with his good size. But, in those 11 SHL games, failed to record a point. Meanwhile, playing in the J20 Nationell as the assistant captain, he scored 12 points in 43 games. Wikman is an excellent skater who can defend well. He’s involved fairly often in the transitional game at the J20 level, but wasn’t always very efficient. However, with his skating and decent puck skills, there’s potential for that to improve. Also, he has some underrated playmaking skills. Could be a solid bottom-four defender, with some additional untapped potential.
80.) Felix Nilsson, Center/Winger, Rogle BK, Swedish Leagues
Nilsson, similar to the aforementioned Rykov, played through four different leagues. The 6’0” and 179 pound forward got one J18 Region game (one assist), one J18 Nationell game (no points), 36 J20 Nationell games (41 points) and 18 SHL games (no points). The production in the J20 Nationell is impressive. It’s due to his multifaceted offensive game, where he has strong playmaking instincts and abilities to go hand-in-hand with an accurate shot. He’s not the most creative or toolsy, but his awareness and knowing what play to make allows him to fund success. It also helps that he is solid in his own end. He just needs to prove his offensive skills against higher levels of competition. Right now, he looks like a strong bottom-six winger, with some special teams upside. Let’s see what team takes the swing on Nilsson in the 2023 NHL draft.
Raw stats via Elite Prospects
Main Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports