The NHL Draft is nearly a summer past and many names we were talking about leading up to it failed to hear their name called on June 22-23. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for these kids however. Every year there are several +1 players taken in the draft who built on a strong season and were determined to hear their name called. This year’s draft seemed to produce a high number of players that didn’t get taken and names that surprised scouts. Here is a general list put together by out scouts of players who we think will build on last year success and potentially become that mid-late round pick for your favourite hockey team at next year’s NHL Draft.
Luka Burzan (Brandon Wheat Kings) – Burzan was touted as one of the top forwards coming out of Western Canada by our scouting crew going into the draft. He came out of the Ivan Hlinka tournament late August as a potential top two round selection, but his game struggle vitally last year with his production, and was part of the deal that saw Kale Clague to Moose Jaw at the trade deadline. Burzan plays that high tempo style of game. He plays with constant motion, being deceptive in his line of attack while being able to get shots off with his wicked quick release. Expected to play a huge role this season with the Brandon Wheat Kings and he should hopefully be able to at least double his production this year at around a point per game pace.
Anderson MacDonald (Moncton Wildcats) – Anderson MacDonald came into the season higher than others on this list when it came to consensus rankings by scouting services. He was anywhere from high teens to late first on most people’s lists after his productive rookie campaign with Sherbrooke. MacDonald’s game took a step back this year with his new team… the Moncton Wildcats, and I felt his decline really started for him at the Ivan Hlinka tryouts in late July of last year. His confidence with the puck diminished as the games there progressed and that scoring touch that saw him pot 29 goals in his rookie season just wasn’t there. MacDonald is that big heavy forward who loves to put the puck in the back at the net and can do so with ease. He put himself in high percentage scoring positions and he gets shots off in traffic exceptionally well. If all goes well and he regains that confidence he lost, I’d expect him to be a 40+ point guy with Moncton this year. A new team might have been a cause for his struggle but expectations are still high on the left winger coming into this season.
Samuel Fagemo (Frolunda HC J20) – I came into the season with high expectations of Fagemo, he showed the ability to score at will at the international level with five goals in five games at the Ivan Hlinka and with his elite level performance at last year’s U17 tournament. A player who seemingly just couldn’t put it all together this past season. Elected to stay in Sweden after being chosen by the Portland Winerhawks in the import draft, and didn’t get much of an opportunity as I expected he would in the SHL. He was able to however produce well at the SuperElit level with 30 points in 37 games and made the most of his opportunity in the Allsvenskan league. Fagemo is that goal scoring winger who has a skilled stick and quick feet to get up ice. He has a terrific release on his off side and can be utilized as that right shot option on the powerplay. Still holds high value as a potential selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, I’d expect him to play at least 10 games at the SHL level and be a top scorer at the SuperElit level.
Chase Wouters (Saskatoon Blades) – For such a two-way talent Wouters was able to have a great year points wise with the Saskatoon Blades, posting 51 points in a full 72 game season. Wouters versatile style of game was something I thought would catch more teams eyes come draft day and I felt he should have been a mid to later round pick as his game projects very well to the NHL level. An aggressive two-way forward who loves to apply consistent pressure on the puck carrier and is able to indirectly create offense with physical play and the ability to create turnovers. Don’t think he breaks out much more production wise but he should be a huge piece on an improving Saskatoon Blades line up. Has the potential to be that bottom six center who plays in defensive situations.
Danila Galenyuk (SKA St. Petersburg) – Spent this past season playing for four different teams, including spending some time in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. He is likely to spend some time this upcoming year in the KHL which would help his draft stock immensely. Galenyuk is a fluid skating two-way defender who has a bomb from the point, he can handle errant pucks with ease. Loves to creep off the blue line and create passing options. I liked his versatility last year, there’s not a lot of defenders with a full 200ft game but he seems to have it. He loves to play physical and does so with precision and timing. He has great reaction timing and can get the puck moving back up ice quickly in transition. Highly touted to start the year before his injury at the Ivan Hlinka. I’d expect big things from him this season and you should really start to hear his name coming around near mid-January.
Merrick Rippon (Ottawa 67’s) – Came into his rookie season in the OHL and saw himself sent Mississauga to the Ottawa 67’s midway through the season. He’s an impressive skating defenseman who loves to play more of a physical style of game. Can close in on the opposition quickly and lay his weight around to create turnovers. He wasn’t the most productive this past season with only 23 points in the 68 games he played, but you could see there being some potential that he can improve upon that number this upcoming year with his mobility on the blue line and strong first pass out of his defensive zone. Overall he isn’t a flashy defenseman who you use in offensive situations but he is hard to play against and I think he brings what is lacking from other defenders in this draft class in a hard-nosed two-way defender.
Brendan Budy (University of Denver) – I was especially surprised that Brendan Budy’s name was called on draft day this year. Budy not only captained his Langley Riverman team this past season but also led his team in scoring by quite a large margin. Budy has been a dominant player in the BCHL since he enters the league as a 16 year old in 2016-2017. He a bit on the smaller end for a winger but he has outstanding edgework that allows him to be deceptive in his line of attack and apply unexpected pressure on puck carriers to create turnovers. Budy is slick with the puck, he controls the puck at an elite level in traffic and can move in and out of lanes to create space for himself. A catalyst player who makes players around him better with his vision and speed. Intelligent with the puck on his stick, recognizing lanes before they open up. I fully expect Budy to be a 20+ point guy this upcoming year with Denver and it just seem like guys who can produce like that in their freshman season don’t usually get missed on. Id almost compare him to a guy like Brandon Biro who still hasn’t heard his name selected but has had great junior A level success and broke out this past season with Penn State.
Lucas Wernblom (MODO Hockey) – A diminutive forward whose name came with high value at the beginning of the season, projected at one point to be a first round pick by most services. His international production is something that immediately catches my eye on his page, point per game player at the Ivan Hlinka last year, five points in seven games at the U18s. Hess a flashy offensive winger who is dangerous with the puck on his stick. He has a bit of creativity to his game and is able to dazzle scout with a highlight goal every now and then. He has a good work ethic and knowledge of the offensive zone. I’d expect him to have a big season and be a potential WJC player for Sweden.
Pavel Gogolev (Peterborough Petes) – On most people’s lists he was the highest player to not be selected. The 6’1 right winger is coming off of a solid sophomore season in the OHL that saw him pot 30 goals and 47 points in 66 games played. How many 30 goal scorers don’t get drafted… it’s rare to see a player of this calibre skipped over and I would be surprised to not see his name with an NHL team at this time next year. He is a speedy winger with a deceptive release in stride. He takes the game over with the puck on his stick, changing the pace of play and pushing the pressure on defenders with the puck on his stick. Works well along the perimeter and is a reliable winger in his defensive zone. Composed in all situations with the puck, rarely gets rattled and remains confident under pressure. If he can score 35-40 goals on a struggling Peterborough team, don’t be surprised to see his name high on draft lists.
TJ Walsh (Boston College) – This is a bit more of a personal choice by myself. Walsh really struggled at the Junior level, only producing 24 points in the 79 USHL games he played and he is diminutive in size at 5’9. The big reason I am optimistic Walsh can put it together is his connection with Oliver Wahlstrom, he and Wahlstrom tore up the minor levels for many years and Walsh was once regarded as a top prospect in this draft class because of it. A crafty forward who has good vision to recognize plays and get pucks around the net. He will need to get stronger and quicker to really catch scouts eye however.
Nando Eggenberger (Oshawa Generals) – Eggenberger was once heralded to be a first round NHL Selection. After a rough season in the NLA with HC Davos, where he had five points in 36 games, Eggenberger fell off team’s draft lists and went undrafted. He went to the Vancouver Canuck’s rookie camp this past summer and comes over to the CHL to join Swiss WJC team mate Nico Gross. Eggenberger is one of this year’s most highly touted re-entries and a strong season will put him back on teams lists.
Jerry Turkulainen (JYP) – Being a late 1998 born, Turkulainen can re enter the NHL draft for the third time. Turkulainen should have been drafted last year after he produced 33 points in 52 games players. A diminutive forward with naturally gifted playmaking abilities, Turkulainen blend vision and deceptiveness into an assist generator. He makes players around him better and can be a catalyst for offensive play. He’s competitive and has excellent knowledge of the offensive zone.