- Fisher’s Top 300 for April
- Fisher’s Top 300 for March
- Fisher’s Top 217 for February
- Fisher’s Top 217 for January
- Fisher’s Top 186 for December
- Fisher’s Top 186 for November
- Fisher’s Top 124 for October
- Fisher’s Top 124 Preseason Rankings
For every riser, there must be a faller. And for April, that was certainly the case for members of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program with a couple risers offset by a few fallers.
A trio of WHL forwards have also trended down for me, along with a polarizing OHL sniper, a Russian import from the QMJHL and two European goalies.
Here are 10 of the biggest fallers from within my Top 100 for April, plus 15 honourable mentions:
1) Arthur Kaliyev (LW, USA, Hamilton OHL)
MARCH RANKING: 21
APRIL RANKING: 26
ANALYSIS: Kaliyev is the polarizing sniper, with his stat-line and goal total fitting of a top-10 pick, but his overall game filled with red flags that could drop him out of the first round. Most scouts have a love-hate relationship with Kaliyev since there is lots to like — most notably his finishing ability — but also lots of concerns, ranging from skating to positioning to work ethic. Kaliyev can light the lamp and fill the net, there is no doubt about that at the junior level, but the way he scores a lot of his goals is also open for debate as to whether those tactics and traits will translate to the pro game. I’m lukewarm on Kaliyev, he’s still a first-rounder for me but somewhere in the twenties since I wouldn’t be comfortable recommending him in the teens — especially to a GM of a non-playoff team. Like Ryan Merkley last year, I would more so recommend Kaliyev to a team with multiple picks in the first round since the bust risk is real but the boom could be as big as Alex DeBrincat.
2) Spencer Knight (G, USA, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 22
APRIL RANKING: 29
ANALYSIS: Knight, like Kaliyev, is still a first-rounder for me — they are both in my 13-29 tier, a grouping that I consider near locks for the first round — but Knight needs to solidify his status with a strong performance at the under-18 worlds. Knight’s second half has left a lot to be desired, having struggled in his last international showcase at the Five Nations tournament in February. But Knight deserves the benefit of the doubt heading into the U18s, having established himself as the clear No. 1 goaltending prospect for 2019 over the last calendar year. Knight’s stock is down a little lately, but a bounce-back effort in backstopping the Americans to gold would have him trending up towards the teens again. However, if he falters on that stage, Knight could potentially fall out of my top 31 for May. No pressure!
3) Henry Thrun (LD, USA, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 51
APRIL RANKING: 71
ANALYSIS: I’m still quite high on Thrun despite this ranking. He’s been a quality partner all season long for Cam York (No. 13), but Thrun’s been quieter as of late and seemingly not improving at the same rate as teammates Marshall Warren (No. 45) and Dominick Fensore (No. 55). Those two have been getting more of the scouting spotlight over the last month, deservedly so, and Thrun slipped a bit for me as a result. That defence corps for the NTDP is sort of tough to rank because they are all so good in their own right — all draft worthy, in my opinion, including Alex Vlasic (No. 46), Drew Helleson (No. 72) and Case McCarthy (No. 114). I wouldn’t be shocked if all seven were selected in the top 100 and Thrun is certainly still a second-round candidate.
4) John Beecher (LC, USA, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 53
APRIL RANKING: 70
ANALYSIS: Beecher has been both a riser and a faller for me this season, bouncing around my rankings to date (55, 47, 27, 32, 38, 54, 53, now 70). This is the lowest he’s been for me and it’s arguably too low — the first time he’s been outside my top two rounds — but Beecher is another prospect that I’ll be keeping a very close eye on during the U18 worlds. He’s buried behind Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte on the centre depth chart for the NTDP — though both of those go-to guys have missed time to injuries — but Beecher’s offensive upside continues to be the concern or the question mark for me. We all know he’s overshadowed in the present by Hughes and Turcotte, but will Beecher be capable of carrying an offensive line in the NHL down the road? I’m hoping to get more of an answer at the U18s, or at least more insight into the type of player that Beecher projects to be as a pro. The Ryan Kesler comparison lingers, but Kesler was an offensive force in his prime and I’m not convinced Beecher can be that player.
5) Ilya Konovalov (G, Russia, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL, overager)
MARCH RANKING: 62
APRIL RANKING: 84
ANALYSIS: This drop had nothing to do with Konovalov — in terms of him doing anything wrong over the last month — but resulted from a reassessment of my placement for overagers, who were only incorporated into my rankings in March. That reshuffling bumped Konovalov further down, but he’s still a legitimate top-five goaltending prospect for 2019. I have Konovalov behind only Knight (29), Dustin Wolf (56), Pyotr Kochetkov (66) and Mads Sogaard (67). That’s pretty good company to be keeping, and rest assured Konovalov is a pretty darn good ’keeper — as evidenced by his KHL numbers, including a .930 save percentage and 1.89 goals-against average over 45 appearances this season. His playoff stats did dip to .905 and 2.42 through eight games, but Konovalov’s body of work should get him drafted in his final year of eligibility.
6) Yaroslav Likhachyov (RW, Russia, Gatineau QMJHL)
MARCH RANKING: 78
APRIL RANKING: 95
ANALYSIS: These next two are prospects that I’m still higher on than most, even if it’s not evident by their April ranking and appearance on this list of fallers. Likhachyov is one of the youngest prospects available for 2019, with a September birthdate, and I’m fairly confident he’s going to blow up next season after limited production during his first campaign in North America. Likhachyov’s stat-line in the QMJHL won’t ‘wow’ anybody — 12 goals and 24 points in 57 regular-season games, plus two assists in a five-game playoff exit — but I saw glimpses of first-round talent in Likhachyov during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and his skill level is far greater than those numbers would indicate. If Likhachyov gets the chance to represent Russia at the U18s and is able to replicate his performance from the Hlinka, he could be a big-time riser for me again next month and heading into June.
7) Josh Williams (RW, Canada, Edmonton WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 79
APRIL RANKING: 97
ANALYSIS: Williams hasn’t had a very good draft year overall, but he’s been better with Edmonton than he was with Medicine Hat prior to a trade-deadline move. Like Likhachyov, Williams sure looked like a first-rounder at the Hlinka in starring for Canada. He appeared to be a budding sniper during that tournament — and based on his bantam pedigree — but, for whatever reasons, Williams’ scoring ability didn’t follow him back to the WHL. I would have bet on Williams netting 30 goals prior to the season, but he finished with just 14 in totalling only 33 points over a combined 66 games. Williams was also relatively quiet in a first-round playoff win against his former team, producing one goal and two points in Edmonton’s six-game triumph over Medicine Hat. Williams has the potential to break out next season and to be a steal outside the top two rounds, but barring a surge for the rest of Edmonton’s playoff run, it’s unlikely that Williams will crack the second round. Again, I like the player, but even I’m having a hard time ranking Williams in the third round at this point.
8) Hugo Alnefelt (G, Sweden, HV71 J20)
MARCH RANKING: 82
APRIL RANKING: 107
ANALYSIS: Alnefelt was another victim of my goalie shuffle from March to April. Him and Isaiah Saville fell together from the third round to the fourth, but they are still my seventh- and eighth-ranked netminders, respectively, behind the aforementioned five and Hunter Jones (No. 91). All eight could crack the top 100, with Alnefelt potentially backstopping the host Swedes in the U18 tournament, which would give him an opportunity to emerge as a riser again.
9) Dillon Hamaliuk (LW, Canada, Seattle WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 96
APRIL RANKING: 119
ANALYSIS: Hamaliuk is hurt by his injury-shortened season, but I know some scouts are high on him despite that limited sample size. I’ve seen and heard Hamaliuk in the top 60, in the top two rounds, but I’ve taken a more cautious approach in ranking him. Out of sight, out of mind is the reason for this month’s fall, but I will likely mock Hamaliuk somewhere in the third or fourth round — somewhere between 75 and 125. Hamaliuk has a pro frame and the tools to be an effective north-south winger but, like Beecher, I question his offensive upside at the NHL level. Next season will be telling for Hamaliuk, but unfortunately we have to rank him based on 31 games from this season and what we remember from his full campaign last season.
10) Reece Newkirk (LC, Canada, Portland WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 97
APRIL RANKING: 120
ANALYSIS: Newkirk had a really hot start to his draft year — thanks, in part, to playing with Cody Glass — but he cooled off in the second half and failed to score in a five-game playoff exit, producing just two assists after netting 23 goals and 59 points over 68 games in the regular season. Unlike Hamaliuk, Newkirk gave us a full sample size without missing a game and he might be in the mix for Canada’s under-18 team, which would be his first chance to play on the international stage. If not, Newkirk will have ended his season on a low and thus dropped in many of the rankings. Next season, without Glass and WHL scoring leader Joachim Blichfeld, Newkirk will have a starring role for Portland and will be relied on heavily in Mike Johnston’s offensive-minded system. Knowing that, an NHL team might reach for Newkirk’s projectable potential in the third round, but he’s likely a fourth-rounder for me — in that same 75-125 range as Hamaliuk.
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NOTE: All 15 of these honourable mentions are still quality prospects, with the first three being legitimate first-round candidates. Any and all of them could be back on the rise for May, with most expected to be on display at the under-18 world championship tournament.
Tobias Bjornfot (LD, Sweden, Djurgardens J20)
MARCH RANKING: 29
APRIL RANKING: 35
Mikko Kokkonen (LD, Finland, Jukurit Liiga)
MARCH RANKING: 30
APRIL RANKING: 37
Alex Vlasic (LD, USA, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 36
APRIL RANKING: 46
Vladislav Firstov (F, Russia, Waterloo USHL)
MARCH RANKING: 69
APRIL RANKING: 77
Matias Maccelli (LW, Finland, Dubuque USHL)
MARCH RANKING: 70
APRIL RANKING: 78
Marcus Kallionkieli (F, Finland, Sioux City USHL)
MARCH RANKING: 71
APRIL RANKING: 79
Hugo Has (RD, Czech Republic, Tappara Liiga)
MARCH RANKING: 74
APRIL RANKING: 82
Kim Nousiainen (LD, Finland, KalPa Liiga)
MARCH RANKING: 75
APRIL RANKING: 83
Dmitri Sheshin (RW, Russia, Magnitogorsk MHL)
MARCH RANKING: 76
APRIL RANKING: 86
Vojtech Strondala (LC, Czech Republic, Kometa Brno)
MARCH RANKING: 77
APRIL RANKING: 87
Hunter Jones (G, Canada, Peterborough OHL)
MARCH RANKING: 81
APRIL RANKING: 91
Isaiah Saville (G, USA, Tri-City USHL)
MARCH RANKING: 83
APRIL RANKING: 108
Leevi Aaltonen (LW, Finland, KalPa Liiga)
MARCH RANKING: 84
APRIL RANKING: 92
Antti Saarela (LC/LW, Finland, Lukko Liiga)
MARCH RANKING: 85
APRIL RANKING: 93
Karl Henriksson (LC/LW, Sweden, Frölunda J20)
MARCH RANKING: 87
APRIL RANKING: 94