Undrafted Tracker: Keeping Tabs on Prospects Passed Over in 2019

How are the prospects that didn’t get drafted doing this season?

As a scout, you want to know that answer, so I try to check up on them regularly — specifically the prospects that I had ranked and mocked. I have been tracking them for my own interest and out of curiosity in recent years — my mocks date back to 2012, with my rankings published since 2018 — but I’ve decided to share those periodical updates on the 2019 draft class.

With around 40 overagers getting drafted every year — approximately one in every five or six picks, more so in the later rounds — it’s certainly worth keeping tabs on those who get passed over.

I’m calling this project the Undrafted Tracker and I’ll be focusing on the 173 prospects that appeared in my final rankings and two mock drafts for 2019. That sounds like a lot, but 64 of my top 217 went undrafted, plus 104 of the 133 honourable mentions from my top 350, along with five additional prospects that were swapped into the consensus mock from the 1,142 on my radar. Of those 1,142, several others are off to strong starts this season and could be drafted in 2020 despite not making the cut for this tracker.

These prospects are listed in the order of my final rankings, with the tracker displaying their current teams and stats as well as whether they are still eligible for 2020 and where I had them mocked for 2019. To view the latter three columns, move the slider at the bottom to the right.

For this first edition of Undrafted Tracker, all the stats are from EliteProspects.com through Oct. 31. However, not all stats are equal since these prospects are developing in various leagues at different levels ranging from junior to pro.

I will highlight prospects from each round within my top 217 and some of the honourable mentions, but the NHLe (equivalency) tool is always helpful for calculating how these stats could translate to the NHL in the future and how they compare to their peers in the present.

Ranked Prospects

[table id=318 /]

Second Round

Daniil Gutik is producing at a point-per-game pace in the Russian junior league (MHL) thus far — albeit with an assist-heavy stat-line — and could get called up to the KHL or VHL at some point this season. That is his goal and the reason he hasn’t reported to WHL Kelowna as a second-round pick in this year’s CHL import draft. Being based in Kelowna, I was hoping to get plenty of live viewings of Gutik — my highest-ranked prospect to go undrafted in 2019. That would have been a great opportunity for Gutik, playing for the Memorial Cup host team in front of all the NHL scouts during that showcase, but he’s still a strong candidate to get selected as an overager in 2020.

Daniil Gutik Team Russia
Daniil Gutik (28) in action for Team Russia. (Russia Hockey/FHR.RU)

Third Round

Billy Constantinou has been traded again — now onto his third OHL team — but he’s enjoying a productive start after surprisingly getting passed over in 2019. That snub may have been for off-ice reasons, but he has the talent and offensive tools to be one of the top overagers taken in 2020 — especially if he continues to mature and makes the most of this change of scenery to the Sault.

Dmitri Sheshin is dominating the MHL, putting up big numbers that should get him promoted to the big league (KHL) in due time. That success might also get him a spot on Russia’s world-junior team, which would give Sheshin another stage to get the scouts’ attention.

Iaroslav Likhachev has high-end skill — as evidenced by his lacrosse goal in the Q this season, one of several players to pull off “The Michigan” thus far (along with Andrei Svechnikov in the NHL and Nils Hoglander in Sweden) — but Likhachev is becoming more of a consistent threat and that will get him noticed more than any of his flashy individual efforts.

Josh Williams is racking up the points as a go-to guy for one of the top junior teams in Canada after strangely struggling throughout his draft year. I had both Williams and Likhachev ranked as first-round talents heading into last season — Nos. 25 and 27 overall, respectively, coming out of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup — but Williams underwhelmed and wound up going undrafted. I doubt that will happen again, providing he can sustain this strong start.

Josh Williams Edmonton Oil Kings
Josh Williams of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. (Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings)

Fourth Round

Vojtech Strondala has taken his playmaking talents to the pro ranks and could make the jump to the top Czech league sooner than later. He’s small in stature but big on skill. His lack of size likely scared off NHL teams, but if he keeps producing as a pro, somebody might take a chance on him the second time around.

Taylor Gauthier has struggled on a losing team and is now sidelined by injury. Once healthy again, it is expected that he’ll be traded to a winning team — potentially his hometown Calgary Hitmen. A change of scenery should be beneficial for Gauthier and he could play his way back into draft consideration for 2020.

Taylor Gauthier of the Prince George Cougars
Taylor Gauthier of the Prince George Cougars (James Doyle/Prince George Cougars)

Fifth Round

Vladimir Alistrov is also going strong as a sophomore with WHL Edmonton — alongside the aforementioned Williams — after getting a look but not a contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs as a rookie camp invite. The CHL imports often take off in their second year in North America, returning more acclimatized on and off the ice, which is what we’re seeing from Alistrov. He’s still a sleeper for a 2020.

Xavier Simoneau is lighting it up as Drummondville’s captain, with some scouting services already ranking him for 2020 as a result. Simoneau was a point-per-game player in his draft year and had a decent playoff showing, so his impressive stat-line shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is a natural progression for him — now in his third season in the Q — but it seems more people are taking notice. Simoneau is still on the small side, but he’s got a solid frame to go with his potent offensive game.

Artyom Galimov’s stats may not jump out at you, but he was named the KHL rookie of the month for October and passed the eye test at the World Juniors in Vancouver. He’s got talent and two-way ability, so it was a bit shocking to see him get passed over for a third time in 2019. Perhaps the fourth time will be the charm for Galimov, with 2020 being his final year of eligibility.

Yegor Chinakhov is another young Russian ripping it up in the MHL — leading his team in scoring ahead of Devils draft pick Arseni Gritsyuk, who I had ranked between Galimov and Chinakhov (Nos. 141-143). Chinakhov is just ahead of the aforementioned Sheshin in this season’s scoring race, with both pushing to get drafted the second time around.

Marcel Barinka isn’t gaining much traction in Halifax, which is surprising given his skill-set. Barinka should have taken on a bigger role there this season after struggling to stay in the lineup for last season’s Memorial Cup host squad. There is still a chance that things could click for Barinka as the campaign progresses, so don’t write him off just yet.

Evgeny Oksentyuk had his coming-out party at the under-18 worlds in April and has carried that success over to North America in playing a starring role for Flint alongside fellow Belarusian Vladislav Kolyachonok. It’s a little surprising to see Oksentyuk leading that upstart team in scoring as an OHL rookie, but it was also surprising to me that he went undrafted after his standout performance at the worlds. His skill level was evident there, so I assumed somebody would have taken a flyer on him in the later rounds. It’s been on full display in a bigger sample size on the smaller ice this season, so I fully expect Oksentyuk to get drafted in 2020.

Sixth Round

Samuel Hlavaj had a difficult draft year in the USHL — making his North American debut — and got shelled at the World Juniors, but he’s bouncing back in a big way with Sherbrooke. He’s now backstopping the CHL’s top-ranked team and looking like another strong bet to get drafted in 2020.

Kristian Tanus is off to a slow start in the Liiga but look for him to play a key role on Finland’s world-junior team. He was a standout at the WJC Summer Showcase and should be an offensive catalyst for that tournament, which should raise his draft stock again.

Tag Bertuzzi has been healthy, first and foremost, but he’s also been productive in showing glimpses of why he went second overall in the OHL draft back in 2017. The son of former NHL power forward Todd Bertuzzi, Tag’s junior career and NHL draft year were plagued by injuries, so he’s trying to make up for lost time this season in putting himself back on the scouting radar.

Jonathan Brinkman is still getting his feet wet with WHL Medicine Hat — joining fellow Dane Mads Sogaard on the Tigers’ roster — so look for him to gain momentum as he settles into a role on that high-scoring team. It’s an adjustment process, but the offence should start to come for Brinkman, who displayed impressive individual skill at the World Juniors in Vancouver.

Martin Lang has been more confident and thus more dangerous in his sophomore season with WHL Kamloops. He’s got a wicked shot and good offensive instincts, so it’s not surprising that he’s taken a step forward. He didn’t show enough last season — at least not on a consistent basis — to get drafted as the youngest player eligible for 2019 (born on the Sept. 15 cutoff), but Lang is winning over some scouts by being noticeable on most nights now.

Seventh Round

Adam Liska is a scorer — he’s up to six goals in the KHL this season — and 2020 will be the last chance for an NHL team to draft him. Otherwise, he could become a sought after European free agent in the years to come. You’d think some team will want to avoid that bidding war, but I thought that would be in the case in 2019 when he was coming off an impressive showing at the men’s world championship with two goals in that tournament. Dominik Kubalik in Chicago could be a decent comparable for Liska.

Lassi Lehtinen is also in his final year of eligibility, an undersized goalie listed at six-feet tall who continues to progress in his development. Fellow Finn Veini Vehvilainen got drafted in his final year of eligibility in 2018 after getting overlooked three times because of size concerns at 6-foot-1. Vehvilainen is now off to a good start in the AHL in his North American debut, so that could bode well for Lehtinen’s chances of getting drafted in 2020.

Matt Brown is no longer draft eligible, but he’s off to a point-per-game start as an NCAA rookie and could become a coveted college free agent. He’s undersized too, but the late-blooming Brown deserved to be drafted after netting 30 goals as a USHL rookie and really turning heads at the World Junior A Challenge. Remember that name as this probably won’t be the last we hear of Brown.

Alex Yakovenko is in the same boat, no longer draft eligible but somebody that NHL teams should consider signing as a free agent in the future. Yakovenko was barely eligible in 2019 — having played four more games in Russia than in the USHL the previous season — but he emerged as a dominant force for Muskegon and has continued to impress upon turning pro in Finland. Another name to keep in mind.

Vladislav Sukhachyov has also aged out of the NHL draft, passed over repeatedly because of that small-goalie stereotype — he’s 5-foot-10, the same height as Juuse Saros. Despite showing well internationally and continuing to boast stellar stats in Russia, Sukhachyov will have to realize his NHL dream through free agency and that is likely a long-shot now. So this might be the last you hear of him from me — finally, after mocking Sukhachyov four straight years to Washington. That running joke ends here, but I swear Sukhachyov doesn’t suck.

Honourable Mentions

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Honourable Mentions

Roman Basran has been solid thus far in backstopping this season’s Memorial Cup host team and putting behind a disappointing end to last season that prevented him from getting drafted. Basran will need to perform well in pressure situations in order to get selected as an overager.

Austen Swankler has made a smooth transition from the USHL to OHL Erie and might be increasing his chances of getting drafted by making that move. He’s a skilled player that has produced at every level.

Matthew Davis is another small goalie at 5-foot-11, but he’s shown he has big game by performing well on the bigger tier-II stages at the World Junior A Challenge last season and the Junior Club World Cup to start this season. Davis is destined for Denver — committed to one of the top NCAA programs for the 2021-22 campaign — while doing his best to get drafted in the meantime.

Pavel Gogolev is leading OHL Guelph in scoring after getting passed over for a second time in 2019. I had Gogolev in my top 100 for 2018 — No. 96 in my final rankings and mocked even higher as a third-rounder at No. 71 — but he experienced a trade and a broken ankle last season. So far, so good in his final year of draft eligibility.

Michal Mrazik took a nice step to start the Swedish junior season — producing at a point-per-game pace in the under-20 league — and earned a call-up to make his pro debut in the SHL. He’s got good size and tools, an intriguing package to keep an eye on.

Alexei Tsyplakov has taken another step in Russia’s junior league — leading St. Petersburg’s MHL club in scoring, but that’s a tough KHL team to crack as a teenager, which Vancouver first-rounder Vasily Podkolzin is finding out. Tsyplakov is certainly trending up and NHL scouts will be taking notice.

Alex Aslanidis is struggling mightily in the early stages of this season, but he’s got the size that can’t be taught — a huge goalie at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds — so NHL teams will continue to track his development. He’s committed to Providence College for next season.

Logan Stein has acceptable size at 6-foot-2 and has been sensational to start this season with two shutouts through five games for USHL Waterloo. Those stats will have NHL teams watching him going forward.

Tarun Fizer is leading WHL Victoria in scoring as an undersized offensive catalyst — somewhat similar to Matthew Phillips, who developed there and has continued to produce in the AHL with an NHL call-up looking like a realistic possibility this season. Fizer is a few inches taller but still quite slight, so he’ll have his work cut out for him in winning over the scouting community.

Clay Hanus is also on the small side — especially for a defenceman — but he’s got big skill as an offensive blueliner. He’s a good fit for Mike Johnston’s high-octane system with WHL Portland, but time will tell whether an NHL team takes a liking to Hanus. His younger brother Cross, a forward, is considered the better prospect as a first-time eligible for 2020.

Brett Chorske is a big right-handed centre — 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, still filling out that formidable frame. He’s off to a stellar start with BCHL Wenatchee and could have significant upside. He’s also got NHL bloodlines — the son of Tom Chorske — so you can bet he’s now on the radar for several teams.

Egor Sokolov has become a man among boys in the Q at 6-foot-4 and 230-plus pounds. He’s part power forward and part sniper — a real impact player at that level. The jury is still out on whether his junior success can translate to pro, but a team in need of scoring wingers should take a chance on Sokolov in his final year of draft eligibility. Failing that, he should have a few free-agent offers to turn pro next season.

Adam McCormick is Sokolov’s teammate with QMJHL Cape Breton and he’s also off to a strong start statistically as the Eagles’ highest-scoring defenceman. Going back to 2018, I had McCormick mocked as a third-rounder (89th overall), so I’ve been high on him in the past. He’s got enough talent to potentially warrant a late-round flyer in his final year of draft eligibility.

Nando Eggenberger was supposed to be the next big Swiss prospect, but he hasn’t panned out. He did captain Switzerland at the World Juniors and managed to score 25 goals in the OHL last season — during his lone campaign in North America — but that wasn’t enough to get drafted in his final year of eligibility. Now pointless on the season at both pro levels back home, Eggenberger’s hopes of an NHL career are likely over.

Alexander Gordin just barely made my top 350 — at No. 349 — but he’s proving worthy of being ranked and staying on the draft radar as an overager by getting off to a real good start in Russia’s junior league. Gordin’s 12 goals are tied for sixth in the MHL and just four shy of his total from last season in 33 fewer games thus far, so he has taken a nice step at that level.

Mock Swaps

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Mock Swaps

Kyle Topping broke his ankle this past week, undergoing surgery and now sidelined long term. He’s no longer draft eligible after twice getting passed over, but that’s a significant blow to Memorial Cup host Kelowna.

That’s all for this debut edition of the Undrafted Tracker, with the next update likely coming after Christmas around the 40-game mark. It’ll be interesting to see how these prospects continue to develop between now and then, so stay tuned!