We now continue our 2019 NHL Draft series by sharing our list of must haves. In case you missed our first installment of the series, you can read the Do Not Draft list here.
Every year, players will hear their name called later than they should. Drafts are won and lost by how a team handles rounds two through seven. Hidden gems could be the boost your team needs to get over the top.
I will share 10 prospects that in my opinion are underrated and if you have a chance to draft them at some point, don’t pass them up. We are not going to share the obvious names at the top. So for the purposes of this exercise, we will be utilizing the final Central Scouting rankings. All prospects who make this list are outside the top-20 NA, top-15 EU and top-5 goalie rankings. Let’s get started.
Patrik Puistola – Ranked 28th EU
Puistola is perhaps my most underrated prospect in this draft given his ranking in the final rankings. In my mind, he is a solid first rounder.
Just watch him on tape when he has the puck. I haven’t seen many 17-year olds dangle older players the way Puistola can. He’s extremely creative with the puck. He can beat you one-on-one but is also an underrated passer.
I think this ranking is due to his average skating, but he does everything else so well. He has another year in Finland with Tappara so some patience is required. But he has the tools to make someone very happy late in round one or in round two, a must-have for me.
Alex Vlasic – Ranked 38th NA
There is always time for 6-foot-6 defenseman with a flare of offense in his game. When Vlasic isn’t handling the puck, he’s using his size to his advantage by winning a lot of puck battles.
The main issue here is consistency as there were times you could hardly notice him out there. But when he’s on his game, you can see the impact he has. He’s also an excellent skater for his size. There’s a lot to like and he’s someone I would take a chance on every time.
Robert Mastrosimone -Rank 53rd NA
Mastrosimone was one of my favorite prospects to watch in the USHL. He brings a unique offensive skill set to the table. He’s primarily known as a playmaker, but can fool you with a deceptive shot when given the chance.
His skating is average at best but there aren’t many offensive threats available like Mastrosimone on day two. He is off to Boston University in the fall where he’ll look to continue his development.
Nathan Legare – Ranked 54th NA
I can’t help but think of Alex Ovechkin when I think of Legare. In the Baie-Comeau games I watched, I saw a lot of the Ovechkin office out of Legare. He has an NHL shot that can blow goalies away. He couples that with good hockey sense and is strong physically.
His strength however could explain his weakness which is his skating. He’s not going to jump out at you with either his acceleration or his footwork. Plus he made his hay on the power play, so I wonder how effective he can be at five-on-five. But the tools are there to make him an interesting prospect and someone I would take a chance on.
Samuel Fagemo – Ranked 20th EU
Fagemo is an example of a prospect who is just good at a lot of things, but isn’t over the top. He’s a good skater. He can create offense. He’s not afraid to play around the net despite being just 5-foot-11. What sticks out for me is his approach to the game.
Fagemo loves to attack every chance he gets. He is noticeably bigger in his draft plus one season which makes him interesting. I don’t see him escaping round two because there is so much to like overall.
John Beecher – Ranked 49th NA
Beecher is perhaps my favorite prospect of the entire draft. A 6-foot-3 center who can skate and play defense makes me wonder why he’s ranked so low on Central Scouting. He’s also not afraid to play a physical game and is only getting stronger.
In watching a couple of games, he was never used in key offensive situations. He was more of a defensive specialist but can make plays if asked to.
Beecher won’t get the attention, but he’s the kind of player you need to be successful in the playoffs where defense is the name of the game.
Brett Leason – Ranked 25th NA
Leason took it upon himself to drastically improve his skating from last year. That’s why many scouts are taking a hard look at him.
He’s also 6-foot-4 and can create offense while playing a physical game. Leason is an example of a bit of a late bloomer who could become one of the better picks of this entire draft assuming his development continues on the same path.
Ryan Johnson – Ranked 33rd NA
Mobile defensemen are always in demand and Johnson is someone who could be available on day two of the draft. In my mind he’s one of the best skaters available. He can also get the puck where it needs to.
In my viewings of him, he had a lot of turnovers mostly as a result of him trying to make plays. His passing stands out but his offense is a work in progress. If he can make strides in his offensive game, he could become one of the steals of this draft. The rest of his game is intriguing for the next level.
Simon Holmstrom – Ranked 27th EU
This ranking of Holmstrom to me is a result of his injury history. When healthy, he’s one of the better playmakers in the draft. But he’s already had hip surgery and had a thumb issue.
What stood out to me in watching a couple games is how smart he is. He makes great decisions with the puck especially around the net. He’s also not afraid to battle despite not being the biggest player out there.
The injury history will scare some off, but I have time for everything he brings to the table when right.
Dustin Wolf-Ranked 12th NA Goalies
Wolf would be ranked a lot higher if he had more size. At just 6-feet, many in the industry have trouble projecting how he’d do at the next level. Outside of that, he’s everything you want in a goaltender. He plays his angles extremely well. He anticipates the play. His athleticism is off the charts. The question here is can he make up for his lack of size? As a late-round pick, I’m most certainly willing to find out.
So did your player make the cut? Which prospects are your must haves? Let us know. Stay tuned for the next part of our draft series which teams are under the most pressure to get this draft right.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.