Prospects Whose Stock Is Soaring Ahead of 2014 NHL Draft
The NHL draft evaluation process is a year-round activity, but the important period takes place as the teams finalize their lists. A strong Memorial Cup performance, an impact U-18 World Championship or starring at the NHL combine can help prospects move up the lists.
This year, scouts have seen examples of all three items, and that will impact the final draft list. Teams may have put their lists to bed for now, but a final glance during draft week could see things tweaked a little.
Here are the prospects whose stock is soaring as we get ready for this year's draft.
10. Edgars Kulda, LW, Edmonton (WHL)
2013-14 Stats: 66 games played, 30 goals, 30 assists with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Edgars Kulda is a scoring winger who blossomed this season. Cody Nickolet of WHL From Above gives us a nice view:
He's extremely hard-working and disciplined, not taking any short cuts in any area of his game. He's got a nose for the net, can score in transition or generate chances by hard work and creating bounces for himself and his linemates. I like his pro potential because he's an even better checker than offensive player and should make a seamless transition to pro when that time comes.
Why is He Trending? Kulda was the Memorial Cup MVP and was stunning on the big stage. NHL scouts had an extra week to evaluate him, and it's likely a team steps up and takes Kulda in the 2014 draft.
9. Brett Pollock, LW, Edmonton (WHL)
2013-14 Stats: 71 games played, 25 goals, 30 assists with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Brett Pollock is a skill winger for the Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings. He exploded offensively this season, jumping from two goals last season to 25 this year.
Why is He Trending? Pollock played deep into spring, while most of the other draft-eligible players were on the sidelines. He showcased his skill during the WHL playoffs and then at the Memorial Cup. His postseason performance will likely improve his draft number.
8. Hunter Smith, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
2013-14 Stats: 64 games played, 16 goals, 24 assists with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.
Easily the top re-entry from the OHL this year, as Smith is the only player I see with a great shot at going inside the top 3 rounds. Smith was a non factor a year ago, and was perhaps even a candidate to lose his spot on Oshawa's roster going into this season. Instead, he does a complete 180 and ends up on a scoring line and the powerplay unit. He's so big and strong that OHL defenseman had a really tough time tying him up. And his hands are actually quite good, at least good enough to allow him to finish off plays in close or redirect shots
Why is He Trending? Smith is a huge winger with offensive potential. NHL teams ignored him one year ago, but this time around, there's more on the resume. Otten suggests he may go in the first 90 picks, and there's little doubt he'll be taken at some point during the draft.
7. Dominik Masin, D, Slavia Praha (Czech U20)
2013-14 Stats: 39 games played, two goals, 19 assists with Slavia Praha of the Czech U20 League.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Dominik Masin began the season as an outlier, but he built a reputation early in the season. Regarding Masin, in November, Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report (via USA Today) said, "Big blue-liner has dramatically stepped up his offensive game, and was already a force in his own end."
Why is He Trending? Masin showed well at the U-18 World Junior Championships for the Czech Republic, capping a strong year. It put him in a much better spot for the draft than he was facing in September.
6. Marcus Pettersson, D, Skelleftea (Swedish Juniors)
2013-14 Stats: 38 games played, three goals, 14 assists with Skelleftea of the Swedish Super Elite Junior League.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Marcus Pettersson is a tall tree on defense with good two-way ability. Future Considerations gives an impressive scouting report, via Elite Prospects:
Pettersson is a tall and lanky two-way defender who plays with good mobility, strong positioning and impressive passing ability as well as the ability to make quick decisions. He needs to use his size better as there is not much physicality in his game
Why is He Trending? In a season that lacks quality defensemen, NHL teams are casting about and digging deeper for good candidates. Pettersson performed well at the U-18 World Juniors and caught the eye of NHL teams.
5. Vladislav Kamenev, C, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
2013-14 Stats: 16 games played, one goal, zero assists with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Vladislav Kamenev is a talented forward with size and skill. One of his main calling cards is puck protection, which is highly valued by NHL teams. His scouting report on Elite Prospects—courtesy of Future Considerations—describes his ability.
Why is He Trending? Kamenev impressed in a big way at the U-18 World Championships for Russia. He scored several big goals and was a concern for the entire tournament.
4. Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary (WHL)
2013-14 Stats: 67 games played, five goals, 24 assists with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Travis Sanheim has the size NHL teams look for in defenseman and displays two-way ability. Cody Nickolet of WHL From Above added to the description, saying, "He's got the size, the skating ability, the hands, the shot, the hockey smarts and the willingness to engage physically and defensively. There's a lot to like."
Why is He Trending? Sanheim's skill set married to a season that saw him improve in multiple areas has him moving up the draft list. Craig Button from TSN has Sanheim in the top 10 overall on his final list, and that publicity can't hurt his cause.
3. Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
2013-14 Stats: 67 games played, 39 goals, 56 assists with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.
Why is He Trending? Dal Colle has a range of skills, and he performed very well during the season's second half. In his final 20 games—including playoffs—Dal Colle scored 12 goals and 31 points. Teams may feel his progress will allow him to succeed in the NHL this fall, similar to Sean Monahan's success with the Calgary Flames.
2. Kevin Fiala, C, HV 71 (SHL)
2013-14 Stats: 17 games played, three goals, eight assists with HV 71 of the SHL.
What Makes Him a Prospect? Kevin Fiala is an outstanding offensive prospect. His Elite Prospects profile talks about his game-breaking potential and range of skills.
Why is He Trending? Fiala had a tremendous U-18 championships, and that garnered a lot of attention for the young Swiss forward. He led Switzerland offensively and ranked among the top offensive players in the entire tournament. He's been trending since and is a lock for the first round.
1. William Nylander, LW, MODO (SHL)
2013-14 Stats: 22 games played, one goal, six assists with MODO of the SHL.
What Makes Him a Prospect? William Nylander has elite offensive potential. His scouting report from Future Considerations—via Elite Prospects—tells us about an exceptional talent:
Nylander is an extremely skilled, dynamic player who has quick hands and feet that make him dangerous offensively. He has great top-end speed, a strong burst and elite vision. He can distribute the puck like few other his age. An intelligent player, he out-thinks opponents regularly.
Why is He Trending? Nylander enjoyed a monster U-18 World Junior Championships that saw him lead all scorers by a significant number. He had been playing against older opponents for most of the year, and scouts found his performance against players his own age telling.