NHL Draft Rankings War Room: Top 13 Outliers

by Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW)

One of the things I like to see in NHL draft rankings is the reasoning, however brief, behind outlier picks. Here is the rationale behind some of THW’s War Room Top 180 rankings – May Edition and 13 outliers:

Ten Outliers Higher Than Most Other Rankings

Mathew Barzal
Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds entered the season as the WHL’s top-ranked prospect for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. His stock has fallen a bit because of injuries, but a strong playoff showing could restore him as a potential top-10 pick. (Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
  1. Barzal – Seattle, C, 5’11, 175, R – E-Mac – 6; others – mainly in 8 to 12 range

Simple, I believe that Mathew Barzal has the talent, drive and compete plus the willingness to do what it takes to get better to be a number one centre in the NHL. The price for a number one centre is very high.

  1. Roy – Sherbrooke, D, 6’0’ 188, R – E-Mac – 17; others – mainly in 21-26 range although Hockey Prospectus has him at 10 (Mar-15) and Future Considerations has him at 14 (Apr-15).

The price last year for an top-line undersized power play quarterback was between 14 (Honka – Dallas) and 19 (DeAngelo – Tampa). I believe that price will hold for Jérémy Roy.

  1. Sprong – Charlottetown, RW, 6’0, 180, R – E-Mac 19; others – mainly 21 to 2nd although Future Considerations has him at 15 (Apr-15).

What is the price to pay for the potential steal of the draft (McKeen’s)? What is the price to pay for the top draft eligible forward in the last month of the regular season (Future Considerations)? What is the price to pay for a very fit player with Phil Kessel like skills? Normally, a player with that talent level would start to get a good look at no later than five or six. However, a player with issues (see Sportsnet.ca article for a discussion of the issues) usually goes a little later. A team willing to deal with such a player such as Detroit may draft a player like Daniel Sprong a little earlier than most would expect.

  1. Guryanov – Ladia Togliatti, C/RW, 6’3, 183, R – E-Mac – 23; Redline – 8 (May-15); ISS – 24; others – mainly late 2nd to early 3.

Denis Guryanov has the skills, Denis Guryanov has the size, Denis Guryanov has the results. Why shouldn’t Denis Guryanov have the rankings too?

  1. Bracco – US U18 NDTP, C/RW, 5’9, 173, R – E-Mac – 29; Future Considerations – 26 (Apr-15), ISS – 28 (Mar-15); others – Mid-second to late 3rd.

Under-sized players such as Jeremy Bracco need to be great or they may not get drafted at all. Under-sized players that are great can make it in spite of their size. Jeremy Bracco is one great under-sized player.

  1. Dergachyov – SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, LW/C, 6’4, 200, L – E-Mac – 37; others – mid 2nd to early 4th.

The Russian Lawson Crouse – He provided the size, energy, physical play and good defense to the veteran Russian U20 team that Lawson Crouse provided to the veteran Team Canada U20 team. Alexander Dergachyov ended his season by scoring the most goals in the MHL playoffs. A Lawson Crouse who can fill the net; I like the sound of that. Is a ranking of 37th too low?

  1. Andersson – Barrie, D, 6’0, 212, R – E-Mac – 44; others – 32 to early 5th.

Rasmus Andersson is a player with good but not exceptional physical skills who had exceptional results (64 points in 68 games). Rasmus Andersson is the player who seamlessly replaced the number one NHL draft pick from 2014, Aaron Ekblad. As Yogi Berra said about the game of baseball, “Baseball is 90% mental — the other half is physical.” Well, Rasmus Andersson has the 90% down pat on offense. Observe him on the power play, it’s the OPE stategy – observe, process, execute – all in one motion. I have Rasmus Andersson higher than most because I give him credit for the 90%.

  1. Bondra – HC Kosice, LW, 6’5, 220, L – E-Mac – 57; others – Mid 3rd to late 6th.

OK, Radovan Bondra is 6’5, 220; Radovan Bondra can skate; Radovan Bondra can play defense. And you’re telling me that Radovan Bondra won’t make second round?

  1. Gavrikov – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, D, 6’3, 205, L – E-Mac – 61, Craig Button – 40 (Apr-15), NHL Combined Final – 138

Vladislav Gavrikov was named the best defender at the U20 tournament during last Christmas holidays; Vladislav Gavrikov was the Captain of the Team Russia U20 team; Vladislav Gavrikov is 6’3, 205; Vladislav Gavrikov knows how to play good defense. I only have him at 61; Craig Button has him at 40; Craig Button may be onto something.

  1. Vehviläinen – JYP U20, G, 6’1, 180, L – E-Mac – 63; NHL Combined Final – 146

Veini Vehviläinen had a good season in the second tier professional league (Mestis) with a .918 save percentage. However he was named the top goaltender in the U18 tournament and almost won the event for Team Finland before finally losing the goal medal game in overtime. His save percentage for the tournament was .949. I have Veini as an early third but I suspect he will get some looks for the second round.

Three Outliers Lower Than Most Other Rankings

  1. Crouse – Kingston, LW, 6’4, 215, L – E-Mac – 11; Craig Button – 11 (Apr-15), others – mainly 4 to 9.

I like Lawson Crouse too but he needed to show more scoring for me to rank him in the 4 to 9 section of this year’s draft.       

  1. Carlsson – Linköping, D, 6’4, 183, L – E-Mac – 59; Craig Button – 84; others – mainly late first

Gabriel Carlsson had a poor showing at the Five Nations tournament followed by an equally poor showing at the U18. Results count so I have dropped Gabriel to the end of the second round.

  1. Forsbacka-Karlsson – Omaha, C’ 6’1, 190 – E-Mac – 75; others – mainly 2nd

Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson (JFK) is an average-sized player with decent skills. However, he does not appear to be a player that will likely become a second line scorer and is not particularly hard to play against. Therefore, I do not have him as a second round prospect.