2017 NHL Draft Recap: Top 5 Undrafted Players

The 2017 NHL Draft is now in the books, putting loads of speculation and predictions to rest after a 10-month period of evaluations.

Along with some major rises and falls with respect to a projected draft order, there were also some prospects who shockingly went undrafted. As with every year, a few players expected by many to go in the early rounds end up not being selected at the end of the day.

2017 NHL Draft floor (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While being drafted as an over-ager always remains a possibility for these young kids, there’s no denying that going undrafted puts a sour feeling in your stomach.

However, there are two ways to react to going undrafted. One is by second-guessing your skills and abilities to ever be an NHL player, ultimately letting it get the best of you. The other option is to use it as a major source of inspiration, going into the next season with a chip on your shoulder to prove all 31 teams wrong.

For the following five prospects, they must start preparing for the 2017-18 season immediately with a level head and sights set on the 2018 NHL Draft. Now, more than ever, we see dozens of over-agers drafted each year. The future remains bright for these kids despite a disappointing day.

Related: Check out the 2017 NHL Draft Recap: Top 5 Steals

1: Kirill Slepets – RW – Loko Yaroslavl

  • Ranked #127 by Hockeyprospect.com
  • Ranked #40 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #96 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #74 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked #23 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
  • Ranked #82 by Larry Fisher (THW)

While Kirill Slepets was certainly not a household name heading into the 2017 NHL Draft, he was expected by most to be a mid-round selection, even ranked as high as 40th overall by ISS.

Slepets is a 5’10”, 154-pound winger from Russia, playing with Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL this year. He put up a respectable eight goals and 18 points over 41 games, but was a standout for Russia at the World U18 Championships, where he added four goals and six points in seven games.

Switzerland goalie Luca Hollenstein Russia's Kirill Slepets
Switzerland goalie Luca Hollenstein stops Russia’s Kirill Slepets (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Despite being a relatively small forward, Slepets has the skating ability and elusiveness to be a dangerous player in the offensive zone. He competes extremely hard every shift and can hold his own below the half wall. He possesses a quick release and an accurate shot which makes him a threat from between the circles.

As a whole, Slepets was expected to be drafted anywhere within the second and fourth rounds. He definitely didn’t seem to be a borderline player from anyone’s perspective, making the result of being undrafted very surprising. Perhaps GM’s across the league got a sense that his intention was to stay in Russia, but without confirmation of that, we are left fairly shocked.

2: Artyom Minulin – RHD – Swift Current Broncos

  • Ranked #106 by Hockeyprospect.com
  • Ranked #94 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #79 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #106 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked #58 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #72 by Craig Button (TSN)
  • Ranked #98 by Larry Fisher (THW)

Artyom Minulin makes it two Russians who were surprisingly left undrafted. Minulin came to North America for the 2015-16 season, and was a first-round pick by the Swift Current Broncos in the CHL Import Draft.

In his second WHL season, the 6’2″ defenceman increased his offensive totals while nailing down his defensive game as well. He increased his point totals from 33 to 50 this year, ranking 14th among WHL defencemen, and was able to prove his skating ability could match the best the ‘Dub’ could offer.

His defensive game is strong too, led by excellent body positioning and gap control. Minulin offers the size and strength to box opponents out well and lay the body as well. He became a very solid two-way defender, with very little true holes to his game.

Collectively, Minulin was expected to be a third or fourth-round selection, with no major draft source having him ranked below the middle of the fourth round. As a result, seeing the Russian native go undrafted was nothing short of a surprise to all. If Minulin returns for another WHL season in 2017-18, he can be expected to be among the point leaders for defencemen.

3: Michael Pastujov – LW – U.S. National U18 Team

  • Ranked #90 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #150 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #122 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked #80 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #116 by Larry Fisher (THW)

Michael Pastujov has experienced a few frustrating years with the U.S. National Development Team. In 2015-16, he was only able to find 22 games between the USHL and USDP. After getting past those injuries for 2016-17, Pastujov often seemed as if he were a step behind as a result of his missed time.

He struggled to meet expectations heading into his draft year, ending up with just one goal and nine points in 22 USHL games. Looked upon as a natural goal-scorer, Pastujov was unable to catch up with the speed of the game. Despite a strong showing at the World U18 Championships, scoring three goals and seven points in seven games, Pastujov entered the draft with tamed projections.

Evaluated as a potentially lethal goal-scorer who can be in the right place at the right time, Pastujov’s rankings suffered as a result of skating issues. He has a slow first three steps and is often beat in loose puck battles.

Regardless, Pastujov was expected to be a fourth or fifth round pick, given his elite natural talents. In the end, teams found it tough to trust that his game was still improving. Injuries surely slowed down his pace, but as a relatively young 1999-born prospect, you will certainly hear Pastujov’s name speculated in the 2018 NHL Draft.

4: Joel Teasdale – C – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada

  • Ranked #123 by Hockeyprospect.com
  • Ranked #112 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #112 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #84 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #65 by Craig Button (TSN)
  • Ranked #86 by Larry Fisher (THW)

Joel Teasdale may not have made the jump that many knew he could, but by no means did he have a subpar season. A 12th overall pick by the Armada in the 2015 QMJHL Draft, Teasdale made strides in his two-way game this year while increasing his scoring rate.

After potting 11 goals and 27 points last year, Teasdale boosted those numbers to 18 and 47, respectively. Not to mention a strong postseason, Teasdale likely entered the 2017 NHL Draft feeling pretty confident. Internationally, Teasdale competed for Canada at the World U17 Championships, adding three goals and six points in six games.

Teasdale is regarded as a tough, two-way forward who can not only play a heavy defensive game but has decent playmaking and finishing abilities as well. While skating wouldn’t be considered his strong suit, it doesn’t hold him back. Teasdale is tenacious and drives the net hard, while also having fairly quick hands to make plays in tight.

Looked upon as a fourth or fifth round guy, Teasdale’s game has no big flaws to it, playing a responsible game in both ends and giving the compete level that makes him a coach’s dream. Going undrafted was a shock to most around the CHL, who see Teasdale as a low-risk prospect. In any case, he should be back with a chip on his shoulder for next year’s draft.

5: Linus Nyman – LW – Kingston Frontenacs

  • Ranked #152 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #144 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #102 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked #100 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #69 by Larry Fisher (THW)

Linus Nyman is another of many prospects who made the jump to the CHL for their NHL Draft eligible year, via the CHL Import Draft. Nyman was a first-round pick in the draft by Kingston and was able to immediately come into the league and make an impact.

The 5’10”, 159-pound winger is certainly not the biggest kid, nor the strongest, but he skates well and makes his opportunities count. While he can disappear from the game at times, Nyman catches your eye when he takes off with the puck. He loves to carry the puck through the neutral zone and gain controlled entry of the zone. Nyman has an elusive snap shot that makes him a serious threat down low.

In 68 games with the Frontenacs, Nyman scored 26 points and 50 points before adding seven goals and 11 points in two playoff rounds. He had a strong a showing at the World U18 Championships as well for Finland, scoring three goals and five points in six games.

In all, Nyman was projected to be a late pick, somewhere within the fourth and sixth round. Although he isn’t the most dynamic player, Nyman demonstrated a real ability to create scoring chances this year, with this draft result making scouts do a double-take. Nyman should return to Kingston next year as a true difference maker.