2013 NHL Draft Rankings War Room Top 120 – The Sleepers

Guest post by Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW)

The Sleepers

Everybody loves sleepers when it comes to the NHL entry draft. Everyone would love for their team to draft the next Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Ryan Miller or Henrik Lundquist, to name but a few draft day steals.

Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik Zetterberg – one of the Detroit Red Wings many draft day steals (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

My definition of a sleeper for purposes of this post is anyone who is at least 30 spots above anybody I used for comparison in my May rankings( i.e. Chris Ralph, Bob MacKenzie and NHL Central Scouting).

As you can see quickly from below it is usually either size or skating which holds a player back causing them to be a sleeper.

Don’t get caught napping when it comes to the following prospects:

76. Matt Buckles, Centre, St. Micheal’s Majors – The good – Power forward size, finish, shot, drive to the net. Improve his skating and we could be talking first round.  The bad – Skating could use some improvement.

80. MacKenzie Weeger, Defense, Halifax – The good – Offensive defenseman whose defense was good enough to lead the league in plus minus in his rookie season in the Q.   The bad – Modest size.

84. Tyler Motte, Left Wing, USA NDTP U18 – The good – Skating, shot, finish, puck possession, puck pursuit, penalty killing.   The bad – Size and strength.

85. Roberts Lipbergs, Left Wing, Seattle – The good – The shot, a growing physicality, hard to move off the puck, little by little improvements to his game without the puck. If he continues to improve like he did in the 2nd half of this year, he has a good shot at making it.  The bad – Modest size.

90. Matt Murphy, Defense, Halifax – The good –  Skating, passing, rushing, shot.  The bad – Can be prone to poor decision-making with the puck.

95. Niklas Hansson, Defense, Rögle – The good – Dynamism, offense, hockey sense.       The bad – Size and strength, defensive game could use improvement.

96. Peter Trainor, Left Wing, Rimouski – The good – Shot, passing, consistency, hockey sense, board work, results.   The bad – Size and strength.

97. Brendan Harms, Right Wing, Fargo – The good –  Playmaking, defense, work ethic, hockey sense, competiveness, results. – The bad – Modest size and strength.

101. Peter Cehlárik, Left Wing, Luleå – The good – Offensive skills, passing, shooting, hockey sense, board work.  – The bad – Skating could use some improvement.

104. Gage Ausmus, Defense, USA NDTP – The good – Size, dependability, defensive awareness, first pass, physicality, nastiness – The bad – Lack of offense, foot speed.

109. Jesse Lees, Defense, Kelowna – The good – Skating, agility, shot, offensive skills – The bad – Size and strength.

114. Miro Aaltonen, Centre, Left Wing, Blues – The good – Skating, energy, scoring, coachability – The bad – Size and strength.

119. Markus Søberg, Right Wing, Luleå – The good – Energy, agility, wrist shot and physical play – The bad – Size and a defensive game that needs further work.

120. Brendan Burke, Goal, Portland – The good – Size, bloodlines (son of former NHLer, Sean Burke), results. –  The bad – As a backup, it is difficult to gauge how good he really is.

Catch Some Zs (Read On for More in Depth Sleeper Info) 

76. Buckles, Matt

Matt Buckles
Matt Buckles – 2013 NHL Drfat sleeper (OJHL Images)
  • Hashtag: BuckNasty
  • Team: #19, St. Michael’s, OJHL
  • Position: Centre
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 6’2
  • Weight: 210 lb.
  • Born: Toronto, ON, 5-May-95
  • Other rankings: NHL 161
  • Playoffs: 17g 17pts
  • YTD: 50g 71pts
  • Twitter A/C: @BuckNasty1pt

  • Profile: Daniel Nugent-Newman at HockeyNow.Ca
  • Quote: Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr at ViseSports.com, “Matt Buckles plays a power forward game. He’s a very effective offensive player when utilizing a size/strength game to the net and is a proven scorer.  Matt has an NHL calibre shot and great finishing ability”.

80. Weeger, MacKenzie

  • Hashtag: Late Bloomer
  • Team: #52, Halifax, QMJHL
  • Position: Defense
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 181 lb.
  • Born: Nepean, ON, 2-Jan-94 – 2nd time draft eligible
  • Other rankings – NHL 224
  • Playoffs: 17g 5pts +13
  • YTD: 62g 44pts +55
  • Twitter A/C: @weegar52

  • Profile: Neate Sager via Yahoo! Sports Canada
  • Quote: Halifax Mooseheads Coach, Dominique Ducharme @ Yahoo.com, “He had a great season. There were little details in his game. He had the Junior A habits a little bit where he would sometimes take too much time with the puck or his execution or reaction would be a little bit slow. He really adapted well. It took a little bit of time. He really improved on everything else — his skating, his positioning”.
  • Video: Allsports13 on YouTube.

84. Motte, Tyler

  • Hashtag: Mr. Dangerous
  • Team: #14, USA NDP U18, USHL
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 5’9
  • Weight: 190 lb.
  • Born: St.Clair, MI, 10-Mar-95
  • Commit: U of Michigan
  • Other rankings – NHL 115;
  • WJC U18: 7g 7pts +5
  • YTD: 63g 44pts +24
  • Twitter A/C: @tmotte_14

  • Profile: Chris Peters via UnitedStatesofHockey.com
  • Quote: From TheScoutingReport.org, “Motte is a very good skater and utilizes his quick feet to make up for a lack of size and strength. A wide base and great puck possession are assets to his game that help create space for Motte against larger players. Offensively, Motte’s heavy shot is his main asset as the winger is a fairly prolific scorer. Hockey sense, however, is a concern for Motte as he can be uninvolved at times, which really neutralizes his impact on a game”.
  • Video: NorthernHockey on YouTube – Complete U18 game versus Finland

85. Lipsbergs, Roberts

  • Hashtag: Lippy
  • Team: #29, Seattle, WHL
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 5’10
  • Weight: 192 lb.
  • Born: Riga, Latvia, 29-Jul-94 – 2nd time draft eligible
  • Other rankings: NHL 116
  • Playoffs: 7g 7pts +5
  • YTD: 64g 58pts -11
  • WJC U20: 6g 2pts -4

  • Profile: Jim Riley via SeattleTimes.com
  • Quote: Seattle Thunderbirds Coach, Steve Konowalchuk, via TheSeattleTimes.com, “He definitely has an NHL shot, one that’s accurate and hard. He’s strong on the puck and has a strong trunk. The determining factor for him is whether he is willing to do all the little things more than scoring goals, like blocking shots and finishing checks. I had to remind him a couple of times this season, but he has shown he is willing to be a complete player. There will be a lot of eyes on him”.
  • Video: DrPabloRamirez via YouTube

90. Murphy, Matt

  • Hashtag: Mr. Steady
  • Team: #24, Halifax, QMJHL
  • Position: Defense
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 200 lb.
  • Born: Fredericton, 1-May-95
  • Other rankings: NHL 156, Chris Ralph 63
  • Playoffs: 17g 2pts +5
  • YTD: 69g 33pts +22
  • Twitter A/C: @Mpmurphy2

  • Profile: Rick Springhetti via McKeensHockey.com
  • Quote: Ryan English via TheScoutingReport.org, “A very solid two way defender, Murphy is the type of player that you wish you never had to take off the ice. He’s a great defender but he can also chip in offensively with his plus shot and poise. It seems like he never makes a mistake. He can make a solid outlet pass but he’s also not afraid to rush it up the ice himself. He plays with a lot of confidence for a 17 year old but when you see him play, you can see why. He has the speed to keep up with the best forwards in the league and the hockey sense to out play them”.
  • Video: DumbassShello via YouTube

95. Hansson, Niklas

  • Hashtag: Dynamosson
  • Team: #33, Rögle J20, SWE J20
  • Position: Defense
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 6’0
  • Weight: 172 lb.
  • Born: Jonstorp, Sweden, 8-Jan-95
  • Other rankings:  NHL 144
  • Playoffs: 2g 0pts -3
  • YTD: 39g 23pts +26
  • Twitter A/C: None found
  • Quote: Kyle Woodlief via USAToday.com, “Skilled rearguard (Hansson) will never be mistaken for a shutdown defender, but his offensive instincts and skills are dynamic. Still has more upside left”.
  • Video: CMoreSverige via YouTube

96. Trainor, Peter

  • Hashtag: Mr. Every Night
  • Team: #17, Rimouski, QMJHL
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 185 lb.
  • Born: Fredericton, NB, 1-Jun-93 – 3rd time draft eligible
  • Other rankings: NHL 211
  • Playoffs: 6g 7pts +2
  • YTD: 68g 100pts +30
  • Twitter A/C: @ptrainor17


  • Profile 1: Fred Poulin via THW
  • Profile 2: Jay MacGlashen via NHLontheIce.com
  • Quote: Rimouski Oceanic Head Coach, Serge Beausoleil via Sportsnet.ca, “He’s a great shooter, he’s got good hockey sense and he’s really dangerous all around the net with his wrist shots.”
  • Video: JournalAdvantage via YouTube

97. Harms, Brendan

  • Hashtag: FinallySomeRespect
  • Team: #21, Fargo, USHL
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 185 lb.
  • Born: Steinbach, MB, 2-Dec-94
  • Commit: Bemidji State
  • Other rankings: NHL 128
  • Playoffs: 8g 7pts +5
  • YTD: 65g 70pts +33
  • Twitter A/C: @bharms18

  • Profile 1: Ryan Kennedy via TheHockeyNews.com
  • Profile 2: Kevin Geisheimer via SteinbachonLine.com
  • Quote: Mike G. Morreale article via NHL.com, One player that most of the scouts took some time to discuss was right wing Brendan Harms of the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League. Harms was rated No. 113 on Central Scouting’s midterm list and finished the 2012-13 season with 23 goals and 63 points in 60 games. Said one scout: “Heck, this kid has good size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) and has averaged better than a point-per-game. He’s done some good things, good competiveness.”
  • Video: TheFargoForce via YouTube

101. Cehlárik, Peter

  • Hashtag: SlovakianStar
  • Team: #26, Luleå J20, SWE J20
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6’2
  • Weight: 192 lb.
  • Born: Zilina, Slovakia, 2-Aug-95
  • Other rankings: NHL 159
  • WJC U18: 6g 7pts -2
  • Playoffs: 6g 1pt +1 (Luleå, Elitserien)
  • YTD: 38g 37pts -1
  • Twitter A/C: None found
  • https://twitter.com/UffeBodin/status/327422986749607936
  • Quote: Jonathan Briggins @ DobberSports.com,” The Slovak winger is 6-2 and 192 pounds. He spent this past season moving up through Lulea’s two junior leagues and eventually onto Lulea in the Swedish Elite League (SEL), the highest level of hockey in the country. There he posted three goals and three assists in eight games. He played well for Slovakia’s U18 team in Sochi this past April, scoring twice and adding five assists in six games. Keep an eye to see which NHL team drafts him and how high he goes. A team that has done its homework could end up with a nice project on its hands.”
  • Video: BigWhite06 via YouTube

104. Ausmus, Gage

Gage Ausmus
Gage Ausmus [photo: Tom Sorensen]
  • Hashtag: Mr. Dependable
  • Team: #27, USA NDTP U18, USHL
  • Position: Defense
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 211 lb.
  • Born: East Grand Forks, MN, 22-Apr-95
  • Commit: North Dakota
  • Other rankings:  NHL 203
  • WJC U18: 7g 2pts +5
  • YTD: 65g 14pts +22
  • Twitter A/C: @Gausmus47

  • Profile 1: Becky Olsen via USANDTP.com
  • Profile 2: Chris Peters via UnitedStatesofHockey.com
  • Quote: Gage Ausmus @ USA NDTP.com, “Last year, our first international tournament was in Russia and everyone was booing us. Now we got to play here and everyone was rooting for us. It was a great feeling knowing the fans are on your side and every time you score, the fans are cheering. The best thing I remember is standing on the blue line and hearing your national anthem in front of your fans. It’s a great feeling.”

109. Lees, Jesse

  • Hashtag: LeeserBeam
  • Team: #2, Kelowna, WHL
  • Position: Defense
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6’0
  • Weight: 180 lb.
  • Born: Calgary, AB, 14-Sep-95
  • Other rankings: NHL Unranked
  • Playoffs: 6g 0pts -6
  • YTD: 66g 30pts +37
  • Twitter A/C: @LeeserBeam2


  • Profile: Gus Katsaros via McKeensHockey.com
  • Quote: Red Line Report @ USAToday.com, “Lees is one of the youngest players in the draft (Sept. 14 birthdate), and was buried on Kelowna’s deep blue-line depth chart early on. But his terrific puck skills and offensive instincts have forced him up that chart, and now he’s even crashing the power play unit and producing points regularly”.
  • Video: ShawTVOkanagan via YouTube

114. Aaltonen, Miro

  • Hashtag: BackFromInjury
  • Team: #15, Blues, SM-liiga
  • Position: Centre/Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 5’10
  • Weight: 169 lb.
  • Born: Joensuu, Finland, 7-Jun-93 – 3rd time draft eligible
  • Other rankings: NHL 230
  • Playoffs: 8g 13pts +6
  • YTD: 32g 16pts -2
  • WJC U20: 1g 3pts +2
  • Twitter A/C: @MiroAaltonen
  • Quote: From Goran Stubb, European Director of NHL Scouting @ NHL.com, “Aaltonen is playing regularly with the Blues and is one of the most improved young players in Finland. He’s a good skater, active, mobile and has a nose for the net. He compensates for his lack of size [5-foot-10, 163 pounds] and strength with a great attitude”.
  • Video: Samblikonna via YouTube

119. Søberg, Markus

  • Hashtag: NorwegianEnergy
  • Team: #10, Lulea J20, SWE J20
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Shoot: Right
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 187 lb.
  • Born: Oslo, Norway, 22-Apr-95
  • Other rankings: NHL>290
  • WJC U18:  Div 1A – 5g 13pts +11
  • Playoffs: 6g 6pts +3
  • YTD: 36g 26pts +29
  • WJC U20: Div 1A – 6g 6pts +4
  • Twitter A/C: @MarkusSberg

  • Profile: Ryan Kennedy via TheHockeyNews.com
  • Quote: Ryan Kennedy via TheHockeyNews.com, “As for his future, Soberg prides himself on his agility, wrist shot and physical play, while knowing he needs to work on defense. He will play one more year in Sweden and then might come over to North America, where his skills translate into any language”.

120. Burke, Brendan

  • Hashtag: Burksson
  • Team: #1, Portland, WHL
  • Position: Goal
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 176 lb.
  • Born: Scottsdale, AZ, 11-Mar-95
  • Other rankings: NHL 164
  • Playoffs: 1 0 12.52 .600
  • YTD: 33 4 2.65 .908
  • Twitter A/C: @bburke_1


  • Profile: Samantha via KuklasKorner.com
  • Quote: Portland Interim Coach, Travis Green @ ThePortlandTribune.com, “I like his progression. Every month he’s taking another step and looking a lot more solid. For a young goalie, we really like the way he’s progressing”.
  • Video: GoaltendingLLC via YouTube

Other Rankings

  • NHL – Combined rankings of the NHL Central Scouting’s segregated final rankings
  • Bob MacKenzie – Mid-season poll of NHL scouts at TSN
  • Chris Ralph – Top 100 mid-season rankings – The Next Ones (Final rankings to be released early June)

Previous Posts in This Series – 2013 NHL Draft Rankings War Room Top 120 – May Edition