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 4
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.
16.) Connor Zary, Centre, Kamloops Blazers, 6’0″ 174 lbs
A late 2001 birthday, if Zary was born a week earlier he would have been eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. After breaking out in 2018-19 with 24 goals and 67 points in 64 games, Zary has been even better this year. He already has 20 goals and 44 points in just 30 games this season. Zary has also shown his skills on the international stage. Last spring he put up four goals and seven points in seven games for Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championships.
Zary is at his best working in the dirty areas of the ice. He gets to the front of the net both with and without the puck. His stick-handling is strong and he protects the puck well on the cycle and makes plays in the slot. He has good vision and passing skills allowing him to set up teammates for scoring chances. He also has a good shot with a quick release. Zary plays a two-hundred-foot game, as he is not afraid to be involved in his own end. He brings good back-pressure and helps his team’s defencemen down low.
17.) Rodion Amirov, Left Wing, Salavat Yulaev, 6’0″ 183 lbs
A talented Russian forward playing in the MHL, Amirov has put up just two points in 22 KHL games this season. However, stats don’t tell the whole story, especially when you consider he is an 18-year-old with limited ice time in a men’s league. Last season, he put up 13 goals and 26 points in 31 games in the MHL. He also put up six points in eight MHL playoff games. Amirov played for Russia at the IIHF Under-18, scoring six goals and nine points in seven games, winning a silver medal and making the tournament all-star team.
Amirov is a strong skater who plays a 200-foot game. He has good top-end speed and couples this with excellent agility and edge work. This gives him the ability to weave in and out of traffic both with and without the puck. Amirov also has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release. He uses his size effectively in all three zones, excelling on the forecheck and the backcheck as well as establishing position in front of the net. He does a lot of things very well, making him an intriguing prospect.
18.) Jeremie Poirier, Left Defence, Saint John Sea Dogs, 6’0″ 192 lbs
The eighth overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, Poirier put up 21 points in 61 games as a QMJHL rookie. This summer he went to the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, scoring three points in five games and winning a silver medal. Poirier has really taken off this season though. Playing for a rebuilding Saint John team, he has been a force at the backend with 11 goals and 34 points in 35 games so far this season.
Poirier has good size, as he is already 6-foot, as a 17-year-old. Poirier has two-way skills. He has shown strong positioning and instincts in his own zone. His active stick cuts down passing lanes, while Poirier is willing to use his body to block shots. He is also a good passer. Poirier is willing to join the rush and has a decent shot. He has improved his skating and combines this with his stickhandling ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone. Poirier is very effective at generating good zone entries and establishing possession in the offensive zone.
19.) Jacob Perreault, Centre, Sarnia Sting, 5’11” 198 lbs
The 19th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, Perreault surprised many with an outstanding rookie season. He scored 30 goals and added 25 assists for 55 points in 63 games as a 16-year-old. Perreault has been even better this season. He already has 19 goals and 41 points in just 28 games for the Sarnia Sting.
The son of former NHLer Yanic Perreault, he is a dangerous offensive player. Perreault has slick hands and is dangerous in one-on-one situations. He can score in a variety of ways, with the moves to beat goalies in tight, an excellent wrist shot with a deceptive release, an outstanding one-timer, a very good snapshot, and even a strong backhand. His vision and hockey IQ are also very strong for his age. He gets open without the puck and makes smart passes to teammates when he has it.
20.) Hendrix Lapierre, Centre/Left Wing, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, 6’0″ 172 lbs
The first overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, Lapierre had a strong rookie season and was named QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He scored 13 goals and 45 points in 48 games for Chicoutimi. Lapierre also added three goals and five points in four playoff games. He has had some injury issues this year, but has still put up 17 points in 19 games. Lapierre is an excellent skater. He has outstanding top-end speed and very good acceleration. His ability to make quick cuts and changes in direction helps him to avoid defenders and create space.
Lapierre is very difficult to defend as he can handle the puck while moving at close to his top speed. He has very good hockey IQ and sees the ice extremely well. Lapierre is a creative playmaker who creates scoring chances for his linemates. He can pass the puck through tight openings and hits teammates on the tape. Lapierre’s ability to speed up the play or to slow it down allows him to control the pace of the game. He sets up on the half boards on the power play and acts as a quarterback. He could stand to increase his strength in order to battle along the boards as well as add some power to his shot.
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