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 prospects we have ranked between 81st and 90th overall.
81.) Aydar Suniev, Left Wing, Penticton Vees, BCHL
Suniev is a Russian-born prospect who has played almost the entirety of his recorded career in North America. The 6’2” and 192 pound winger was able to produce 45 goals and 45 assists for 90 total points across just 50 BCHL games. He absolutely dominated on the scoresheet, which is to be expected for a top prospect in the BCHL.
Suniev has a really good shot, and he knows how to get open to let them off and be a scoring threat away from the puck. Not only that, but he has surprisingly good puck skills, allowing him to create space for himself. He also has a great motor, which helps him be a pain with his physicality. A modern-day power forward, Suniev needs to improve his skating and playmaking to make it to the NHL. He projects as a bottom-six power forward type. That’s one of many here in the 2023 NHL draft, it seems.
82.) Ignat Lutfullin, Forward, St. Petersburg, MHL
Lutfullin, a 6’0” and 163 pound forward, only played in the MHL this year, and was a rookie at that level. The lack of experience at the MHL level, let alone no time in either the VHL or KHL, has led to him not being on very many boards. Smaht Scouting had him in their top-64, but he wasn’t ranked in the top-100 by anyone else… until us at Last Word.
A strong skater, Lutfullin also has a balanced offensive game, able to impact the game with his shooting and playmaking skills. He’s not overly flashy, but solid all-around in the offensive end. He also possesses a decent motor, with strong forechecking abilities. While his offensive skills show a lot of promise, and his style projects into a top-six role, having little to no experience in the Russian junior ranks gives him little to no floor, making him the ultimate swing.
83.) Coulson Pitre, Center, Flint Firebirds, OHL
Pitre is a 6’1” and 172 pound center who has played the last two seasons in arguably the toughest league in the CHL. As a rookie, he recorded 23 goals and 21 assists for 44 points in 52 games, not bad for a then-16-year-old. He followed that up this season with 25 goals and 35 assists for 60 points in 59 games, just above the point per game threshold.
Pitre is a good shooter, with solid off-puck skill, being able to find space to get open for teammates. He’s also creative in the way he attacks the offensive end, and is almost always involved in the chances created when he’s on the ice. Pitre’s really good at attacking off the boards as well. However, the rest of his game is a work in progress. He isn’t super involved in transition, but has been fairly effective given the chance. But he needs to work on his defensive game, as he doesn’t haver the best positional awareness there.
84.) Jakub Dvorak, Left-Handed Defenseman, Bili Tygri Liberec, Czechia
Dvorak is a hulking defender, standing at 6’5” and 209 pounds, making him one of the biggest defenders in the class. In 24 games in the top men’s league in Czechia, Dvorak managed just two assists. The year before, playing 19 U20 games, he scored 10 points. With the experience against men, Dvorak has been ranked between 43rd and 97th by various experts and outlets.
Dvorak’s offensive game is reliant on his heavy shot, while he largely lacks involvement everywhere else in the zone. The bread and butter of his game is his defensive zone abilities. He has great positional awareness, a strong stick, and a lot of physicality. His skating needs a lot of work, as does his offensive and transitional skills. If he can develop his offensive game a little more and become a better skater, he could be a David Savard-esque match-up defender playing bottom-pairing minutes. That’s big, especially in a class like the 2023 NHL draft class, where defenders haven’t made a massive mark.
85.) Etienne Morin, Left-Handed Defenseman, Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL
Morin, who stands at 6’0” and 183 pounds, had a fantastic offensive season, production-wise. Scoring 21 goals and 51 assists for 72 points in 67 games from the blueline, he surely turned a lot of scouts’ heads. He was ranked between 33rd and 72nd overall by various outlets. Morin’s shot is decent, with solid power and good accuracy. As for his playmaking, he flashes strong vision. But, despite the production, his raw skills aren’t overly impressive. Plus, his puck-moving isn’t exactly dominant either, as he isn’t super involved in the puck-moving process, and when he is, he’s only above-average in efficiency. His defensive game is decent, but he struggles defending the rush at this point. Fine-tuning his skating and defensive game, while building his offensive skill set, could help him realize some top-four potential that is possible in his game.
86.) Connor Levis, Center, Kamloops Blazers, WHL
Levis, a 6’2” and 194 pound center for Kamloops, had a decent season in the WHL this year. Producing 27 goals and 40 assists for 67 points in 68 games, he just fell shy of having a point per game. With the production, he has been placed between 63rd and 214th overall, making him quite the wild card in the 2023 NHL draft class.
Levis has a strong shot, but it’s plagued by inconsistent accuracy. He also lacks creativity and doesn’t have the best playmaking instincts, though he is efficient at keeping plays alive and extending possession time. Levis is also a smart defensive zone presence, staying in position to keep his man from generating chances. However, he can lack engagement at times. Working on his average at best skating, overall engagement, and shot accuracy will help him to become a potential third line forward with goal-scoring upside.
87.) Jesse Nurmi, Left Wing, KooKoo, Finnish Leagues
Nurmi, who stands at 5’11” and 165 pounds, is a Finnish forward who spent a majority of his season playing in the U20 ranks. However, he did get nine games against men in the top Finnish league, Liiga, where he had one point. At the U20 level, he produced 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points in 41 games. He was ranked between 41st and 104th by various outlets, though most had him around 90th.
Nurmi is a strong skater, with good offensive instincts with no skill that pops out front and center. He is well-balanced, but needs to refine both his playmaking and shooting skills moving forward. His biggest strength is his defensive instincts and engagement, willing to put in the work to help his team out. Becoming a bigger presence transitionally and improving his overall offensive skills could make him a solid middle-six presence, though he is a project at this point.
88.) Rodwin Dionicio, Left-Handed Defenseman, Windsor Spitfires, OHL
Dionicio is a 19-year-old, second-year eligible prospect. He’s played the last two seasons in the OHL, with six goals and 25 assists for 31 points in 57 games for the Niagara IceDogs as a rookie. The 6’2” and 205 pound defender then followed that up with 15 goals and 35 assists for 50 points in 50 games split between two teams. He truly came alive with Windsor, scoring 11 goals and 32 assists for 43 points in 33 games, following seven points in 17 games with Niagara. The trade worked wonders, as his offensive game opened up in a massive way.
He is uber-creative, and would produce some jaw-dropping plays with his puck skills and playmaking instincts. His offensive awareness and IQ popped way off the page after getting traded. However, his skating is extremely behind just about every other prospect in this class, which must be fixed moving forward. His skating held him back a bit offensively, which is scary to think, but it also made him a liability in his own end. Legitimate top-four potential if his skating can be at least average.
89.) Thomas Milic, Goaltender, Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL
Milic was the hero of the U20 World Junior Championship for the Canadian squad. The 6’0” and 174 pound netminder stood on his head with a 1.76 goals against average and .932 save percentage, to go with a 5-0-0 record, en route to the gold. Not only that, but he also won the WHL championship, won the playoffs MVP, and the Del Wilson Trophy for WHL top goaltender. The 20-year-old has only ever had one season below a .900 save percentage in his recorded career, and that was when he played two WHL games as a 17/18-year-old goalie.
The biggest detractor to his game is his size, as very few goaltenders at below 6’2” or so make it far. That doesn’t mean he can’t, however. That’s quite literally the only knock on his game, too. He is consistent, calm in the net, and has a fantastic grasp on angles and proper positioning. Milic is also very athletic, but isn’t overly reliant on making those phenomenal saves and utilizing that athleticism. It’s time he gets his due praise by getting scooped up within the top-100 of the 2023 NHL draft.
90.) Tanner Adams, Right Wing, Tri-City Storm, USHL
Adams, a 5’11” and 183 pound winger, had a solid season in the USHL this year. He scored 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points in 49 games with the Storm. He’s committed to play for Providence College next season in the NCAA. Adams is one of the most well-rounded players in the 2023 NHL draft class.
He does everything. Adams played center throughout the season, though he mainly played on the right wing. He was good on draws. Adams also killed penalties effectively, generated quite a bit on the power play, and was solid at even-strength. He possesses a strong shot that can be a threat when given time and space. Physically, he played a hard game, willing to get into the dirty areas and net-front to establish dominance and generate scoring chances. Adams does not have a lot of potential, likely capping off as a bottom-six do-it-all type like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. But the odds of him making the NHL are in his favor because of his all-around solid and high IQ play.
Raw stats via Elite Prospects
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