Burgundy Rainbow is happy to introduce our very own NHL draft guru, Nathan Chapman. You might be familiar with him from the Prospect Monthly podcasts. He will be providing his own periodic rankings as we lead up to the draft. Any questions or comments please leave below or to @ncchapman15 directly on Twitter.
With the Top Prospects game coming up on January 25th I thought I’d share my CHL top 100 list with write-ups for the top 31 and some of my later sleeper favourites. I love following the draft and prospects so hopefully if you read this you’ll be a little more familiar with these players come June.
1-Andrei Svechnikov, RW Barrie Colts (OHL) – Svechnikov has a lethal shot and is dangerous from anywhere on the ice. He is also the most complete player in this draft as he loves to be physical and block shots almost as much as he loves to score. He is known for his shot but is a very good playmaker as well who isn’t as selfish as some might think. He isn’t afraid of going in the corners or in front of the net either and should be one of the games elite players in no time.
2-Filip Zadina, RW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) – Zadina has put the Q on notice from his first game and hasn’t let up since. He also put on a show at the WJC for his native Czech Republic. Zadina like Svechnikov is a well rounded offensive player as he can score goals at will while also having eyes in the back of his head for his teammates. The major difference between the two though is while Zadina does a good job using his size to shield the puck, he isn’t as physical as his counterpart and has some defensive flaws he’ll need to iron out. Like Nico Hischier the year before, Zadina looks to be a one and done with the Mooseheads.
3-Ty Smith, D Spokane Chiefs (WHL) – Smith is a franchise defenseman who other than being a couple inches shorter than ideal at 5’11 has no holes in his game. When you look at his numbers and size you’d think he’s a one dimensional Offensive Defenseman but he’s more sound in his own end. He’s a very fluid skater who has elite hockey IQ and a shot than is dangerous even with him still filling out. He has a tremendous stick and is willing to do anything for his team to win. He’s been the captain for Canada at the U17’s, has an A for Spokane and was named Captain of team Orr for the Top Prospects Game, so he has a high character to boot. Expect Smith to be the modern day Duncan Keith who is suited perfectly for today’s modern NHL.
4-Noah Dobson, D Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL) – Dobson is the biggest riser as the year has progressed due to his impressive play. He has great size and while he isn’t the flashiest player, he controls the game with his puck moving ability and smarts. He’s a good skater who can play at a fast pace but seems to prefer a slower more controlling game and waits for the ideal plays to develop. Dobson is still a fairly lanky kid but still likes to battle in the corners and will become more of a force with time. He has a good shot and definitely likes to use it as his recent goals have shown. Like Smith he has the potential to be a franchise defenseman.
5-Evan Bouchard, D London Knights (OHL) – Bouchard is putting up video game numbers on an abnormally weak London team. Bouchard has good size and has a huge shot that he loves to use. He also is a really good puck mover and likes to rush the puck. His biggest weakness is his skating as his feet are fairly clunky and can get turned at times. It has progressed this year though and isn’t as big of a weakness as last year. He’s a pretty smart player in his own end who doesn’t chase or get out of position much but his skating does hold him back in that area. He goes into the corners and clears the net well but still needs to gain strength.
6-Joe Veleno, C Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) – Veleno was the most recent player to get exceptional status and while he’s no Connor McDavid he is still a great player in his own right. He’s a very smart two-way player who is the most advanced defensive forward in this draft and is a tremendous playmaker. He has an ok shot but his biggest weakness is putting the puck in the net and is the area of his game that needs the most work. While he might never be the franchise player that was expected of him a couple years ago, he should still be a very good NHLer who to me plays a very similar game to former Q player Sean Couturier.
7-Ryan McLeod, C Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) – McLeod like his older brother is a great skater and has a very advanced two-way game. He has good size and can setup teammates at will but like his brother his biggest question about his game is whether or not he’ll be able to put the puck in the net. Like his brother I believe his offense will translate well to the big show and be a perfect second line center who can take on the heavy minutes. He has a non-stop motor and loves to mix it up while going to the greasy areas of the ice.
8-Jett Woo, D Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) – Ric Flair fans rejoice you’ve got your guy. Woo is a complete defenseman who can be used in all situations. He is a good puck mover and has a dangerous shot but his true calling is in his own end. Woo is a rock who loves to battle it the corners, block shots and is great at taking away passing lanes. He’s aready a stocky kid who uses his size well and while his offense might never be elite he’s a good bet to be a rock in someone’s top four for a long time.
9-Barrett Hayton, C Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – Hayton is a smart player who is a decent skater and has good offensive instincts while really excelling in the defensive part of the game. Hayton plays the game very closely to current NHLer Ryan O’Reilly while having a little more edge to his game. Hayton’s shot is the most underrated part of his game as when he gets in his spot he can wire the puck. He’s also a good playmaker and is still developing his game as on the offensive side it’s still quite raw. He might be considered as a safer two-way player but there is a high ceiling for his offensive game with the right training and coaching.
10-Cole Fonstad, C Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) – Fonstad is probably the most underrated prospect in the draft at this moment. While not being the biggest player he doesn’t let it hold him back as he loves to go at the opposition. He has amazing hockey IQ and is carrying a rather weak Raiders club on his back. His calling card is his passing ability as he can find any passing lane and has a good shot for his size. He’s also a good defensive player who excels at stealing the puck from the opponent. He reminds me of former WHL alum Brayden Point.
11-Jared McIsaac, D Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) – McIsaac is a big physical shutdown defenseman who has come on strong as of late after a bad start to his draft year. McIsaac is a force along the boards and in front of his net who likes to make opponents pay for every chance they take. While he doesn’t have a huge offensive upside he does move the puck well and has a good shot. He is someone who is the perfect fit with a smaller Offensive Defenseman in someone’s top four in the NHL.
12-Kyle Topping, C Kelowna Rockets (WHL) – Topping went from a late 11th round pick to one of the WHLs elite young players in a matter of months. Topping combines his vision and power to create a very dangerous offensive game while being a responsible two-way player as well. Not an overly flashy player but always finds himself in the correct position and has a dangerous shot. While not terrible his skating is the biggest area he needs to improve.
13-Ryan Merkley, D Guelph Storm (OHL) – Merkley is probably the most polarizing player in this year’s draft. He has a tremendous skillset that rivals Rasmus Dahlin but his effort and coachability is a major concern. An elite skater who has unbelievable puck skills and a big time shot while being a pretty good defender when he wants to be. Merkley is more of a rover though and his interviews at the combine will majorly effect where he goes in the draft. If you want high event hockey he’s your guy.
14-Akil Thomas, C Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL) – Thomas is a fast skating exciting forward who has good intelligence and playmaking ability. His puck skills make defensemen look silly at times and loves to be flashy. His shot is good but could use work and he needs to get stronger as he really struggles versus size if he gets caught. He probably will be a winger in the NHL but he doesn’t lack defensive awareness other than the odd mishap. Thomas has the potential to be an elite smaller winger in the NHL one day but might be tried out as a center first.
15-Calen Addison, D Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) – Addison is a very good puck moving defenseman who plays a very aggressive offensive game. He isn’t the biggest player at 5’9 but has a good shot and is a fairly bulky player who isn’t pushed around very easily. Like Merkley his defensive game is good but at moments isn’t as responsible as he should be. While he does have warts to his game he is a coachable kid who strives to get better every day.
16-Serron Noel, RW Oshawa Generals (OHL) – Noel is a mountain who can also skate like the wind and has a rocket of a shot. He is the son of former CHL player Dean Noel and has a very aggressive mindset. Noel has good puck skills and an underrated passing ability but is still a very raw player. His defensive game still needs some polish but has made strides forward from the start of the year. Noel also possess a very strong work ethic so if you were to bet on a raw player reaching his potential he’s the guy.
17-Philipp Kurashev, C Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) – Kurashev is a skilled forward who has always put up good numbers whether it be in the Q or internationally. He has average size and a good shot with a quick release. He does a good job finding the soft spots in the attacking zone and can create some highlight reel moments. His defensive game is alright but probably won’t be able to handle the center position but should excel at wing. He is fairly strong on the puck and doesn’t give up in board battles that easily.
18-Allan McShane, C Oshawa Generals (OHL) – McShane is a slightly smaller forward but plays best in a puck possession game and his size doesn’t really hold him back. McShane is a smart player with good puck skills and a shot that tends to trick goalies. McShane got off to a tremendous start to his draft year but has cooled off as of late and will need to pick it back up for him to get back into the first round. In his rookie year the same thing happened so it’s something worth monitoring with him.
19-Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) – Groulx is the unheralded Moosehead in this years draft. While he’s not the flashiest player he’s someone who just gets the job done. He is a good skater who is a great two-way player and has an underrated offensive game but is raw in that area. For him to put up offense at the next level he might have to be moved to wing but that might not be the worst thing for him. He’s an excellent penalty killer and throws his body in front of everything while being a force in the corners and along the boards.
20-Alexander Alexeyev, D Red Deer Rebels (WHL) – Alexeyev has a good combination of size and skating ability with a decent offensive game. He likes to rush the puck at times and does a good job moving the puck to go along with a pretty good shot. The best thing about his game is in his own end and how he handles opponents. He does a great job of using his size and reach to keep opponents away from the high danger areas. He also isn’t afraid to engage in the physical side of the game. He still has some rawness to his game but the future is bright for this guy.
21-Anderson MacDonald, LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) – MacDonald is a straight forward player who plays a very physical game and has a nose for the net. MacDonald is a decent skater with a good shot and has decent puck skills. He goes to the net and corners hard while being very tough to knock off of the puck. The biggest issue of his game is his play away from the puck as he doesn’t have the best conditioning and could be more engaged in the defensive game. While he still has a ways to go, the skill set is there for a good top six power forward.
22-Milos Roman, C Vancouver Giants (WHL) – Roman is a solid all around player who competes hard and doesn’t take a shift off. While he doesn’t possess an elite skill set he gets the most out of it with his compete level. His best skill is his playmaking ability as he does a good job setting up teammates and finding the dangerous areas in the attacking zone. He also has a solid defensive game and sticks to opponents by not giving them much time to do anything.
23-Rasmus Sandin, D Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – Sandin is a smooth skating defenceman who can move the puck well and has a decent shot but has a limited upside. He’s putting up good numbers in the Soo but they’re inflated by the team to a certain degree. While he doesn’t have a huge potential, he is a safe bet to be a solid NHLer in the relatively near future.
24-Cam Hillis, C Guelph Storm (OHL) – Hillis didn’t have the best start to his season but has really come on strong as of late. Hillis is a skilled player with good hands and hockey sense. He is a good passer but is no slouch when it comes to shooting the puck either. Not the biggest player and needs to add strength to truly excel at the next level.
25-Nathan Dunkley, C London Knights (OHL) – Dunkley was part of a big trade from Kingston and hasn’t missed a beat with his new team. Dunkley is a high skilled player who has high end puck skills and is a pretty good skater. He shot is good and has great passing ability but the big issue in his game comes in his own end. He hasn’t shown the greatest consistency in his own end but the good news is he has made some positive strides in the right direction.
26-Riley Sutter, RW Everett Silvertips (WHL) – Yes, another one. The Sutter clan has produced another hockey player this time by the name of Riley. Sutter is a very complete player whose specialty is the defensive and physical game. He is a good penalty killer and has a decent offensive game as well. He has a good shot and really likes to hover around the net for loose pucks and deflections. Doesn’t have top line upside but should be a very valuable and versatile depth player.
27-Nicolas Beaudin, D Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) – Beaudin is another lower upside player but he doesn’t have many if any weaknesses in his game. He’s a great passer and power play QB who can also play the penalty kill pretty well. His shot can be dangerous but is a better passer and puck mover. He’s another safe bet to make it as a solid depth player in pro.
28-Ty Dellandrea, C Flint Firebirds (OHL) – Dellandrea is a big center who likes to play a physically engaging game. Is a good skater for his size and has a great skill set but needs to work on consistency. While he is physical he could still get stronger to give him a real advantage over opponents and to keep rounding out his defensive game.
29-Alexander Khovanov, C Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) – Khovanov had a rough start to his draft year as he got Hepatitis A which caused him to miss the bulk of the first half of the year. Khovanov is an alright skater but has a very high IQ and has good skills but struggles a bit because of his size. Could be a great sleeper pick but has missed significant development time. How he does from the this point on will be huge for where he is picked.
30-Chase Wouters, C Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – Wouters continues to improve as the year goes on and will continue to climb. Wouters plays a very physical game and loves to throw the body while he also possesses a high skill level. He has a really quick release and good passing ability. He loves to battle along the boards and in front of the net. Is a solid two-way player and is very versatile as he can play all three forward positions well but is suited for center perfectly fine. He has improved his consistency as the year has gone on and been on fire since Christmas.
31-Gabriel Fortier, W Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) – Fortier is a swift footed smaller forward who has tremendous skill and despite his size is an aggressive player. He has a decent shot and playmaking ability but needs to improve his consistency for him to take the next step. As with his offensive game his defensive game has flashes of good but he isn’t consistently engaged.
Sleeper-Xavier Bouchard, D Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) – Bouchard is a very good skater and moves the puck very well. He has a good shot but doesn’t use it as much as he should and has good puck skills but has struggled somewhat this year to put up the numbers expected of him. This is more of a case of the talent not matching up with the numbers but his draft stock will be effected by both that and where he plays. His father is Gillies Bouchard who is the coach of Rouyn-Noranda. Bouchard is very good in his own end and battles hard. He could benefit from putting on more weight though.
Sleeper-Kody Clark, RW Ottawa 67’s (OHL) – Clark is the son of former NHLer Wendal Clark. He has a good combination of skill and physicality while being a very clutch player. His shot is the best part of his skills as he can rip it. He also has a very good defensive game and is a big kid. He can still add weight and strength for him to be that feared power forward. Skating is the area he needs to work on the most going forward.
Sleeper-Luka Burzan, C Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – Burzan is a high energy player with a non-stop motor. Burzan has a good shot and vision with a smooth skating stride that he makes look effortless. Burzan’s production wasn’t the greatest in Moose Jaw due to him being stuck down the depth chart but with his trade to Brandon he is showing why many thought he’d have a big draft year. The one thing that benefitted from being stuck down the depth chart is his defensive game has made good progress.
Sleeper-Erik Florchuk, LW Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – Florchuk like Burzan was stuck in a numbers crunch in Victoria but has been given a bigger role and opportunity in Saskatoon. Florchuk is a very skilled player and a really quick release. He has good size but is still rather thin and will need to bulk up. Has a good skating stride and has already developed great chemistry with wonder kid Kirby Dach. Florchuk is another player who if he seizes the opportunity will rocket up the rankings.
Sleeper-Jackson Leppard, LW Prince George Cougars (WHL) – Leppard is a big physical player who lives for contact. He is a force along the boards and in front of the net but also has an underrated softer side to his game at times. He has a good shot and can made some good passes to go along with a solid skating stride. While he’ll never be a big producer, he should be a very good bottom six forward if he’s given the chance.
Complete Top 100 CHL Ranking
1-Andrei Svechnikov, RW Barrie Colts(OHL)
2-Filip Zadina, RW Halifax Mooseheads(QMJHL)
3-Ty Smith, D Spokane Chiefs(WHL)
4-Noah Dobson, D Acadie-Bathurst Titan(QMJHL)
5-Evan Bouchard, D London Knights(OHL)
6-Joe Veleno, C Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
7-Ryan McLeod, C Mississauga Steelheads(OHL)
8-Jett Woo, D Moose Jaw Warriors(WHL)
9-Barrett Hayton, C Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds(OHL)
10-Cole Fonstad, C Prince Albert Raiders(WHL)
11-Jared McIsaac, D Halifax Mooseheads(QMJHL)
12-Kyle Topping, C Kelowna Rockets(WHL)
13-Ryan Merkley, D Guelph Storm(OHL)
14-Akil Thomas, C Niagara Ice Dogs(OHL)
15-Calen Addison, D Lethbridge Hurricanes(WHL)
16-Serron Noel, RW Oshawa Generals(OHL)
17-Philipp Kurashev, C Quebec Remparts(QMJHL)
18-Allan McShane, C Oshawa Generals(OHL)
19-Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C Halifax Mooseheads(QMJHL)
20-Alexander Alexeyev, D Red Deer Rebels(WHL)
21-Anderson MacDonald, LW Moncton Wildcats(QMJHL)
22-Milos Roman, C Vancouver Giants(WHL)
23-Rasmus Sandin, D Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds(OHL)
24-Cam Hillis, C Guelph Storm(OHL)
25-Nathan Dunkley, C London Knights(OHL)
26-Riley Sutter, RW Everett Silvertips(WHL)
27-Nicolas Beaudin, D Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
28-Ty Dellandrea, C Flint Firebirds(OHL)
29-Alexander Khovanov, C Moncton Wildcats(QMJHL)
30-Chase Wouters, C Saskatoon Blades(WHL)
31-Gabriel Fortier, W Baie-Comeau Drakkar(QMJHL)
32-Aidan Dudas, C Owen Sound Attack(OHL)
33-Riley Stotts, C Calgary Hitmen(WHL)
34-Xavier Bouchard, D Baie-Comeau Drakkar(QMJHL)
35-Giovanni Vallati, D Kitchener Rangers(OHL)
36-Chase Hartje, D Brandon Wheat Kings(WHL)
37-Kody Clark, RW Ottawa 67’s(OHL)
38-Alexis Gravel, G Halifax Mooseheads(QMJHL)
39-Luka Burzan, C Brandon Wheat Kings(WHL)
40-Olivier Rodrigue, G Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
41-Erik Florchuk, LW Saskatoon Blades(WHL)
42-David Levin, LW Sudbury Wolves(OHL)
43-Luke Henman, C Blainville-Boisbriand Armada(QMJHL)
44-Dmitry Zavgorodniy, RW Rimouski Oceanic(QMJHL)
45-Jacob Ingham, G Mississauga Steelheads(OHL)
46-Filip Kral, D Spokane Chiefs(WHL)
47-Ryan Chyzowski, LW Medicine Hat Tigers(WHL)
48-Vladislav Kotkov, RW Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
49-Xavier Bernard, D Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
50-David Tendeck, G Vancouver Giants(WHL)
51-Egor Sokolov, W Cape Breton Screaming Eagles(QMJHL)
52-Caleb Everett, D Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
53-Adam McCormick, D Cape Breton Screaming Eagles(QMJHL)
54-Kirill Nizhnikov, RW Sudbury Wolves(OHL)
55-Jackson Leppard, LW Prince George Cougars(WHL)
56-Matthew Struthers, C North Bay Battalion(OHL)
57-Declan Chrisholm, D Peterborough Petes(OHL)
58-Alexis Shank, G Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
59-Vladislav Mikhalchuk, RW Prince George Cougars(WHL)
60-Matthew Grouchy, C Quebec Remparts(QMJHL)
61-Kevin Mandolese, G Cape Breton Screaming Eagles(QMJHL)
62-Kevin Bahl, D Ottawa 67’s(OHL)
63-Riley Damiani, C Kitchener Rangers(OHL)
64-Damien Giroux, C Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
65-Tristan Cote-Cazenave, G Victoriaville Tigres(QMJHL)
66-Pavel Gogolev, RW Peterborough Petes(OHL)
67-Adam Liska, LW Kitchener Rangers(OHL)
68-Owen Lalonde, D Guelph Storm(OHL)
69-Nico Gross, D Oshawa Generals(OHL)
70-Brett Kemp, C Edmonton Oil Kings(WHL)
71-Duncan McGovern, G Kootenay Ice(WHL)
72-Roman Kalinichenko, D Tri-City Americans(WHL)
73-Cedric Desruisseaux, C Drummondville Voltigeurs(QMJHL)
74-Eli Zummack, C Spokane Chiefs(WHL)
75-Wyatte Wylie, D Everett Silvertips(WHL)
76-Brodi Stuart, LW Kamloops Blazers(WHL)
77-Jordan Kooy, G London Knights(OHL)
78-Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, C Peterborough Petes(OHL)
79-Max Golod, LW Erie Otters(OHL)
80-Alexis Girard, D Saint John Sea Dogs(QMJHL)
81-Michal Ivan, D Acadie-Bathurst Titan(QMJHL)
82-Tristen Nielsen, C Calgary Hitmen(WHL)
83-Dawson Barteaux, D Red Deer Rebels(WHL)
84-Blade Jenkins, C Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
85-Justin Ducharme, LW Acadie-Bathurst Titan(QMJHL)
86-Adam Evanoff, G Moose Jaw Warriors(WHL)
87-Joel Hofer, G Swift Current Broncos(WHL)
88-Brady Hinz, RW Peterborough Petes(OHL)
89-Kaid Oliver, LW Victoria Royals(WHL)
90-Samuel Houde, C Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
91-Conner Brugen-Cate, LW Kelowna Rockets(WHL)
92-Merrick Rippon, D Ottawa 67’s(OHL)
93-Thomas Ethier, LW Blainville-Boisbriand Armada(QMJHL)
94-Carson Focht, C Calgary Hitmen(WHL)
95-Hunter Holmes, C Flint Firebirds(OHL)
96-Mathias Laferriere, C Cape Breton Screaming Eagles(QMJHL)
97-Zachary Emond, G Rouyn-Noranda Huskies(QMJHL)
98-Alex Kannock-Leipert, D Vancouver Giants(WHL)
99-Connor Corcoran, D Windsor Spitfires(OHL)
100-Connor Roberts, C Flint Firebirds(OHL)