Each draft has its busts and steals. We all know some of the most famous steals which are for example Detroit with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, selecting them with the 171st respectively 210th pick. Or the famous Luc Robitaille who was drafted by the Kings only in the 9th round. Although you can figure out the steals and busts only some years after the actual draft, let’s have a look at some potential steals for the upcoming Draft:
David Henley (D, Charlottetown Islanders):
A big bodied stay-at-home Defenceman listed at 6’4 and 203 lbs. He plays with a lot of physical edge and shows good balance. Henley likes to play the body and will never shy away from any physical battle. Central Scouting has ranked him 95th NA skaters. He had a good season with the Charlottetown Islanders being their number one shut down defenceman. The Val-d’or, QC native isn’t possessing a lot of offensive skills and rarely joins rushes but he is excellent in shutting down top lines. Because of his lack of offensive potential, teams will overlook him and he therefore needs to be considered a steal.
Michael Floodstrand (F, USDP):
Floodstrand is not even listed by NHL Central Scouting in their final rankings. This might come because he is lacking offensive skills. He isn’t the most talented forward but he makes it up with his great work ethic and willingness to make unpopular plays. He is a work horse and fits into a typical role player profile. Floodstrand is very effectively killing penalties and is dangerous shorthanded. He had a good U18 tournament and notched 5 points in 7 games and it would be a surprise if no team would pick him up with one of their late draft picks.
Denis Guryanov (F, Ladia Togliatti):
Denis Guryanov is a typical Russian power forward with good size and an absolute rocket shot. He loves to fire the puck and uses his whole shot arsenal to score. He has good hands and is decent in one-against-one situations. Given his size of 6’2 he is a good puck protector and uses his body to win bord battles. He shows good balance on his skates and is hard to knock off the puck. Guryanov tries to be more responsible in his own zone but still needs to improve his defensive game. Maybe he is not the most explosive skater but Guryanov is an offensive threat and can be an effective power forward because of his overall competitiveness, strength and great shot. He is listed 7th EU skater and there remains questions about how good he really is and if he is willing to play in North America. This might keep teams away from picking him in the first round even if he would belong there from a talent perspective. Whoever picks him and is able to bring him across the pond won’t be disappointed and could land a decent steal. His strong U18 performance is surely helping him to get more attention as he was the most dominant Russian in Switzerland.
Mitchell Stephens (F, Saginaw Spirits):
Captain of Canada’s U18 team in Switzerland. Stephens is an extremely matured and versatile player. He plays with a lot of passion and can be used in nearly all situations. Plays both Penalty Killing as well as Power Play. Although he is not very big, listed at only 6’0 and 183 lbs, he plays a very competitive game. Central Scouting has him ranked as number 122 due to some unknown reasons. He plays way better than this and he can be a potential steal for a team taking him earlier than suggested by Central Scouting. He doesn’t possess high end scoring skills but he definitely understands the game well, shows good work ethic and is very versatile. Stephens is fitting in a role on a third or fourth line.
Mitchell Stephens has been arguably Canada's most consistent player and it'll likely help solidify a good draft spot #2015NHLDraft
— Brendan Ross 🇨🇦 (@RossyYoungblood) April 25, 2015
Oliver Kylington (D, Farjestad):
There has been a lot of question marks and uncertainties about Oliver Kylington. At Central Scouting’s midterm rankings he was listed as the top skater in the European list but only a few months later he has dropped to the sixth place in their final rankings. He is now even listed behind fellow Swedish Defencemen Jacob Larsson and Gabriel Carlsson. This is a dramatic drop and this makes it very hard for Teams to project him. He seemed to play without confidence in the last games and neither did he convince Scouts at the U18 tournament. However, Kylington might still be the best European Defenceman in this year’s draft. And Scouts still saw his tremendous skating abilities and matured understanding of the game in each of his shifts. He will probably not be drafted as early as you could have thought a while ago and he will most probably drop significantly. This might set the stage for a big steal when he should really fall out of the top 20 and if he manages to find his game again.
The curious case of Oliver Kylington- illustrates the dangers of emphasizing tools when toolbox seriously lacking. Major boom-bust prospect
— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) May 19, 2015
Anthony Beauvillier (F, Shawinigan Cataractes):
Beauvillier is a small guy but a very agile and quick skater. He is able to make quick turns and has good puckhandling skills. Because of his small size he can sneak into open spots unnoticed by defenders. He was listed 33rd NA skater by Central Scouting and this is most probably because he is lacking size. But the Quebec native had a decent season with Shawinigan having 94 points in 67 games and was invited to play for his home country Canada in the U18 Worlds. If a team is not worried at his size and picks him early, it could lead to a successful story.
Jeremy Bracco (F, USDP):
The undersized forward is projected to be picked rather late in the first round. But he should maybe still be mentioned in this article because even if he is picked in the first round, he might still be one of the steals in this draft. Some teams are shying away from him because of his size. He is listed at only 5’9 and is ranked only 60th NA skater in the final rankings. But forget about this! It is just ridiculous to list this kid that low! If you have a player with such skills you shouldn’t be concerned at anything and just go for it if you have the chance to pick him. He is a tremendous playmaker with outstanding vision and a good pass. Great skating skills and slick hands are completing his profile. Count him as a big steal in case he slips into second round.
Christian Fischer (F, USDP):
Fischer seems to be a safe for the second round. But is this reflecting his skill set? He is a very powerful two-way forward who works very hard in both ends of the ice and possesses an over average skating balance. Listed at 6’1 and 212 lbs, he uses all of his big frame to protect the puck very well and to play effectively along the boards in battles. Fischer is one of the more NHL ready players in this year’s draft in terms of strength. He is a very agile skater and has extremely powerful strides plus good top speed. Fischer is the kind of player all coaches like to have. If he continues to develop his offensive skills and he would indeed be picked mid second round then he might be considered a steal.
Ilya Samsonov (G, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk):
According to Central Scouting’s final rankings, Ilya Samsonov is the best European based goalie and most probably the most talented one in the entire draft. He has good size and tremendous ability to make acrobatic saves due to his great athleticism. He was selected as the best goaltender at the U18 tournament and had an outstanding 49-save performance against Team USA. He played only one game with Metallurg in the KHL and he never left his hometown of Magnitogorsk, therefore some scouts were worried and mentioned the Russian factor when hearing his name. It is hard to project him but if a team thinks he is a good fit they might get away with a steal in the second or even third round if he is still available at that time. The lack of high end goalie prospects in this draft class might help him to get a better draft position.
Of course those are only some names and there are several other players who would earn a mentioning. Now while you can argue if a guy that is projected to be a first or second rounder really should be called a steal, keep in mind that the purpose of this article is to mention players who will have a bigger career than their actual draft results. But often there are also some overagers you have to keep an eye on. You can find some notable potential steals of overagers here.
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own