2017 NHL Draft: Top 5 Overagers

Evaluating prospects at such a young age is not an easy task for scouts, especially in the case of having limited views. While the NHL scouts can usually nail down young players’ potentials, there are always a few busts and a few missed opportunities.

Nearly a year removed from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, we are seeing the early results of talented kids who went undrafted through 211 selections for a number of reasons. Some were based on injuries, some took a little extra time to adjust to their respective league, and others simply needed more time to develop.

There are plenty of cases of young players who went undrafted but continued along their path before eventually becoming NHL superstars and even Hall of Famers.

As we head towards the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, there are several prospects entering their second or third year of eligibility. A select few have made their cases so irresistible that they are virtual locks to be selected after all 30 teams passed on them last June.

The following five players had a breakout season of sorts in 2016-17, and have been ranked accordingly by NHL Central Scouting, giving them a very high chance of being selected in the draft.

Tyler Steenbergen – C – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Date of Birth: Jan. 7, 1998

Size: 5-foot-10, 181 pounds

Year of Eligibility: Second-Year

Central Scouting Ranking: 70th (NA Skaters)

Tyler Steenbergen is a former 12th overall pick by the Swift Current Broncos back in 2013. In 2015-16, his NHL draft-eligible year and second season with the team, Steenbergen saw tremendous improvements from a lacklustre rookie season in which he added just 11 points over 72 games. After bumping those totals to 20 goals and 46 points, he headed into the 2016 NHL Draft as the 197th ranked prospect by ISS.

Unfortunately, Steenbergen’s dream was put on hold after he was passed over 211 times.

As a result, he entered the 2016-17 campaign with a chip on his shoulder and a desire to prove all 30 NHL teams wrong. At the end of the season, Steenbergen racked up a league-leading 51 goals and 90 points, good for ninth in the WHL.

After the hot start, Steenbergen was ranked 138th in Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings. Today, he is ranked 70th, a testament to his success and the improvements he continues to make each day.

Steenbergen uses a strong stride along with good edge work to make himself an above-average skater in the WHL. Of course, his release is what makes him a hot prospect. He can skate with speed with the puck and has a strong shot off the rush. He also likes to come off the half wall to create opportunities. It couldn’t hurt to add a bit more muscle, but with that said, Steenbergen is not a kid who gets knocked off the puck very often.

With scoring demand at an all-time high, Steenbergen’s shot alone makes him an intriguing prospect for any team in the NHL and should assure him a draft spot within the top 100.

Morgan Geekie – C/RW – Tri-City Americans (WHL)

Date of Birth: July 20, 1998

Size: 6-foot-2, 168 pounds

Year of Eligibility: Second-Year

Central Scouting Ranking: 45th (NA Skaters)

Drafted by the Tri-City Americans in 2013, Geekie did not find a permanent spot on the team until 2015-16, his first NHL draft-eligible season. Of course, Geekie transitioned through a major learning process, becoming accustomed to a much faster and more physical league. With that said, his rookie year was fairly successful, posting 25 points over 66 games. However, he was left off of all major 2016 NHL Draft rankings and ultimately was passed over.

Fast-forward just four months and Geekie was prepared to have a difference-making campaign. Based on hockey sense and terrific vision of the ice, Geekie would go on to rank ninth in the WHL with 90 points, including 35 goals.


While Geekie certainly isn’t the best skater around, he is able to move well for a kid who is still filling out his body. At 6-foot-2 and just 168 pounds, Geekie could certainly add some more muscle and strength, which is where an exciting potential could be tapped. After going undrafted, Geekie surprised many by earning a rank of 50th on Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings. By the end of the year, he would improve that mark to 45th.

While Geekie is a playmaker by nature, he has the ability to put pucks in the net as well with a drive for the net and an ability to be in the right place at the right time for deflections and rebounds. In a big frame, Geekie could become a speedy power forward if he fills out.

As a result of the risk vs. reward aspect, Geekie should hear his name called within the first three rounds.

Ty Lewis – LW – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Date of Birth: May 3, 1998

Size: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds

Year of Eligibility: Second-Year

Central Scouting Ranking: 59th (NA Skaters)

In this, Lewis’s second WHL season, he was finally able to play the full year after injuries cut his season short in 2015-16. Lewis put up 10 goals and 23 points over 48 games in his first NHL draft-eligible season and was left off of all major draft rankings, eventually going undrafted. Heading into the 2017 draft, there wasn’t much expected from Lewis, and it seemed unlikely that he would hear his name called in June.

However, a hot start earned Lewis the 105th position in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings. By year’s end, Lewis racked up 30 goals and 68 points in 70 games, making the jump to a legitimate NHL draft prospect. As a result, he rose in CSS’s Final Rankings to 59th.

While the numbers may not jump out for a second-year draft-eligible player, there is solid belief among scouts that his game still has lots of room to grow, with a high ceiling of potential. Lewis has a tremendous skill set as well as solid vision and playmaking abilities. He also has a knack for scoring goals, with a quick release which he can get off in tight spaces.

Despite a smaller frame, Lewis is strong on the puck and rarely is knocked off the puck. He has the smarts and understanding of the game to continue to grow and become a promising NHL prospect.

Expect to hear Lewis’s name called within the top 100 picks.

Drake Rymsha – C – Sarnia Sting

Date of Birth: August 6, 1998

Size: 6-foot-0, 186 pounds

Year of Eligibility: Second-Year

Central Scouting Ranking: 118th (NA Skaters)

After a very solid rookie season with the London Knights in 2014-15, Rymsha fell victim to the injury bug during his NHL draft year in 2015-16. He was also traded to the Ottawa 67’s during the season, making it a very difficult situation for the young prospect. He came back healthy for this year and ready to prove the critics wrong.

After a solid first half in Ottawa, Rymsha was again traded, this time to the Sarnia Sting. It was after the trade that Rymsha really began to take off and play to his ability. By year’s end, Rymsha scored 35 goals and 62 points in 65 games. He also sported a 58.4 percent rate in the faceoff circle, a number which ranked seventh in the league.


Rymsha plays a quick, strong two-way game, with a nose for the net. He isn’t afraid to be the net-front presence for screens, tips, and rebounds, where a lot of his goals are scored. He skates well enough, but it could be an area of improvement for him to take that next step.

As a late 1998-born prospect, Rymsha is only about six weeks older than the 2017 draft class, making his transition unsurprising and his risk as a prospect very low.

Expect to see Rymsha drafted in rounds four to six.

Kevin Hancock – C/LW – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

Date of Birth: March 2, 1998

Size: 5-foot-11, 183 pounds

Year of Eligibility: Second-Year

Central Scouting Ranking: 91st (NA Skaters)

After being drafted in the fifth round by the Owen Sound Attack, Kevin Hancock spent the majority of the following season in Jr. A with the Toronto Jr. Canadians, maturing and growing into the mould of an OHLer. He would have a strong rookie campaign in 2015-16 but would fall short of the expectations of an NHL draft-eligible prospect.

However, Hancock broke out this year for 30 goals and 85 points, sending notice to all NHL scouts that he has the ability play at a higher level. While playing alongside Nick Suzuki and Jonah Gadjovich certainly helped boost his production, Hancock continued to play an impressive two-way game all year, earning the praise as the second-best defensive forward in the gruelling Western Conference, as voted by the coaches.

While Hancock isn’t the biggest or strongest kid, he has terrific hockey sense that allows him to quickly adapt and adjust to hockey at higher levels, and soon enough, to excel. As showcased by his two-way play, Hancock has a great understanding of the game and an ability to play the necessary role. Although his skating could use slight improvements, Hancock also boasts a strong shot and a willingness to drive the net.

With the invaluable tools in Hancock’s package, he should be selected in the fifth or sixth round.