- Fisher’s Top 350 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
This month’s fallers feature a handful of power-forward types with questionable offensive upside, a few skilled wingers with uncertain futures, and a couple smooth but undersized European defenders with debatable ceilings. However, they are all projected to be top-100 picks in the 2020 NHL draft.
1) Dylan Holloway (LC, Canada, Wisconsin NCAA)
MARCH RANKING: 11
APRIL RANKING: 16
ANALYSIS: I’m a huge Holloway fan and feel confident he’s going to be a very effective pro. I also think he had a better draft year than many scouts are giving him credit for. That said, Holloway is an older prospect for this draft class and didn’t produce as much as perhaps anticipated as a college freshman, though that is a big jump from Junior A. His numbers weren’t bad — 17 points in 35 games (eight goals, nine assists) — and Holloway still passes the eye test on a regular basis, but some of the other prospects in my 11-20 tier had superior seasons on paper and thus surpassed him now that all is said and done.
2) Emil Andrae (LD, Sweden, HV71 J20)
MARCH RANKING: 25
APRIL RANKING: 32
ANALYSIS: Andrae was the lone prospect to fall out of my first round for April, slipping to the very top of the second round. I like Andrae, quite a lot, but I’m torn on the top four Swedish defencemen and the order that I prefer them. Those being Andrae (32), William Wallinder (33), Helge Grans (42) and Anton Johannesson (51). Andrae is still my frontrunner but, in some of my recent viewings from later in the season, I have been really taking a liking to his partner, Johannesson, who has had much less exposure due to injuries but seems to be more dynamic between the two. Andrae is the safer pick and the safer player, but Johannesson could have the higher ceiling — as could Wallinder and Grans as bigger, more powerful defenders. In a mock draft, it is likely at least two of those four crack the first round, so that evaluation will continue in fine-tuning my rankings.
3) Eemil Viro (LD, Finland, TPS Liiga)
MARCH RANKING: 45
APRIL RANKING: 54
ANALYSIS: Viro and the Finns are in the same boat as the Swedes, with little separating Finland’s top three defenders in Viro (54), Topi Niemela (43) and Joni Jurmo (34). I am higher than most on Jurmo and would strongly consider taking him in the first round — he is such a strong skater and oozes offensive potential — but Niemela and Viro are closer to a coin flip for me in the middle of the second round. Niemela had the better draft year and might be a bit further along in his development — he is also right-handed, which makes him a rarer commodity — but Viro has intriguing upside and arguably more offensive ability. I like Viro’s tools and could see him taking a big step next season, but this ranking feels appropriate for what he’s accomplished to date. Worth mentioning, Samuel Knazko (69) — a Slovak developing in Finland — isn’t far behind Niemela and Viro, with the potential to overtake them in the years to come. I’m hoping to see more of Knazko next season, assuming he is destined for WHL Vancouver. But I’m convinced Jurmo will be the best of that bunch when they get to the NHL.
4) Justin Sourdif (RW, Canada, Vancouver WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 48
APRIL RANKING: 58
ANALYSIS: Sourdif was coming on strong before the sudden end to the draft year — since a lacklustre showing at the CHL Top Prospects Game — so this fall isn’t related to his recent performance. Overall, Sourdif had a mediocre season with some lengthy lulls and didn’t live up to the early hype as a first-round candidate. As a result, his stock is down in the big picture. Sourdif will likely be selected somewhere in the second round or perhaps slide to the third round. If he falls that far, Sourdif could emerge as a steal, but this ranking is right in line with his expected range.
5) Daniil Gushchin (RW, Russia, Muskegon USHL)
MARCH RANKING: 54
APRIL RANKING: 60
ANALYSIS: Gushchin has all the skill in the world and is wicked fun to watch when he’s feeling it, but he’s so small and prefers the perimeter, which means he disappears at times. When he’s visible, Gushchin is flashing first-round talent, but the challenge for him is sustaining that impact from shift to shift despite leading Muskegon in scoring as a sophomore. He chose to stay there instead of reporting to Regina in the more rugged WHL, but that was probably a wise decision based on the respective supporting casts. Maybe he’ll make that move next season to play with Connor Bedard, who received exceptional status and will be selected first overall by Regina in this month’s bantam draft. Gushchin can be electrifying, but it is hard to say what he’ll be in the NHL. I don’t think he’ll be Artemi Panarin or Sergei Samsonov, but maybe a smaller Maxim Afinogenov. That uncertainty caused him to fall ever so slightly, but Gushchin’s speed and creativity could have him on the rise again prior to finalizing my rankings since I’m a sucker for this type of talent — size be damned.
6) Antonio Stranges (LW/LC, USA, London OHL)
MARCH RANKING: 59
APRIL RANKING: 66
ANALYSIS: Stranges has been a frequent faller, starting at No. 14 in my preseason rankings and tumbling down to my third round — now outside the top 62 for the first time. Stranges is still one of the nicest skaters in this draft class and possesses some of the best dangles — particularly his shootout moves — but his overall effectiveness leaves a lot to be desired. His production was nothing special in his draft year and Stranges has his share of flaws to offset those strengths. There are also red flags concerning his character and work ethic, which would explain his usage — or lack thereof — in London under the Hunter brothers, who run their program on the merit system. That is a professional environment and Stranges’ lack of improvement and progression has surely hindered his stock. He is going to frustrate coaches like Anthony Duclair, but the talent level is undeniable and Stranges could become a steal in the third round, though he could just as easily be a bust as a top-50 pick.
7) Jaromir Pytlik (RC, Czech Republic, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)
MARCH RANKING: 57
APRIL RANKING: 67
ANALYSIS: Pytlik has also been trending down for me — from the first round (No. 26 in my preseason rankings) to the third round. I’d consider him a safer pick than Stranges, but Pytlik’s offensive upside is a matter of debate. He is strong on the forecheck and really good around the net — getting a lot of goals from rebounds and redirections — but Pytlik doesn’t generate much off the rush and doesn’t have breakaway speed. He has a deceptively decent shot and could have success as a net-front presence on the power play, but Pytlik projects as more of a two-way centre — perhaps a third-liner that kills penalties in the NHL. He’ll be a reliable 200-foot player with a relatively high floor, but I’ve lowered my expectations on Pytlik’s ceiling and thus this lower ranking.
8) Connor McClennon (RW, Canada, Winnipeg WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 67
APRIL RANKING: 89
ANALYSIS: McClennon has been out of sight and out of mind since suffering a broken collarbone in January, but this fall was the result of a reshuffling among WHL forwards. McClennon is now grouped with Tristen Robins (90) instead of Ozzy Wiesblatt (68), with Jack Finley (75) being the only WHL forward between them. McClennon is still a legitimate prospect and could be a steal that late in the draft — towards the end of the third round — but he didn’t produce much before Peyton Krebs returned from injury, which won’t go unnoticed by NHL scouts. I’m not accusing McClennon of riding coattails, but Krebs was the catalyst between them and had a hand in the majority of McClennon’s points during his surge prior to getting hurt. McClennon could explode next season and be among the WHL’s leading scorers on a potent Winnipeg team, but he was more of a complementary player in his draft year and might never be a driver despite having a good motor and quality shot. I still see Jordan Eberle upside in McClennon, who I also had as a first-rounder (No. 28) in my preseason rankings, but he’ll likely be a third-rounder now.
9) Will Cuylle (LW, Canada, Windsor OHL)
MARCH RANKING: 78
APRIL RANKING: 96
ANALYSIS: Cuylle, like Stranges, has become another regular on this list. He is a power forward that some are projecting to be the next Tom Wilson, but Cuylle doesn’t skate nearly as well and I don’t think he has much offensive upside either. I could be wrong and power forwards sometimes take longer to develop despite their physical advantages, but I’m not very high on Cuylle in the present or for the future. He wouldn’t be on my “do not draft” list, but I would probably pass on Cuylle in the top 100 unless my team was lacking that type of bruising prospect. I am fairly certain that he will be more of a bruiser than a scorer as a pro.
10) Dylan Peterson (RC, USA/Canada, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 80
APRIL RANKING: 97
ANALYSIS: Peterson might have more offensive ability than Cuylle but isn’t as intimidating as a bottom-six checker, which is also the role he’ll likely play in pro. It’ll be interesting to see which of those two becomes more serviceable. They both have a long way to go — and a lot of developing or evolving to do — to get to the NHL, but some teams could have them higher on their lists largely based on size. I’m bigger on skill than size for the most part, as evidenced by Peterson and Cuylle falling out of my third round.
RELATED: THW’s 2020 NHL Draft Guide
NOTE: Here are 10 more double-digit fallers from within my top four rounds, mostly due to reshuffling rather than any wrongdoing.
Brock Faber (RD, USA, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 96
APRIL RANKING: 107
Landon Slaggert (RW/LC, USA, NTDP U18)
MARCH RANKING: 97
APRIL RANKING: 108
Jack Smith (LC, USA, St. Cloud Cathedral U.S. High School)
MARCH RANKING: 98
APRIL RANKING: 109
Grant Slukynsky (F, USA/Canada, Warroad U.S. High School)
MARCH RANKING: 99
APRIL RANKING: 110
Bogdan Trineyev (RW, Russia, Dynamo Moskva MHL)
MARCH RANKING: 101
APRIL RANKING: 111
Kasper Puutio (RD, Finland, Everett WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 104
APRIL RANKING: 118
Christoffer Sedoff (LD, Finland, Red Deer WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 105
APRIL RANKING: 119
Michal Gut (LC, Czech Republic, Everett WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 113
APRIL RANKING: 145
Lukas Svejkovsky (RC/RW, USA/Czech Republic, Medicine Hat WHL)
MARCH RANKING: 114
APRIL RANKING: 146
Leo Loof (LD, Sweden, Farjestad J20)
MARCH RANKING: 124
APRIL RANKING: 135
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Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.