Devils Select Michael McLeod with 12th Overall Pick

All the hype for the 11th overall pick, and the Devils ended up trading it.  They traded the 11th overall pick to the Senators for pick #12 and a 3rd round pick (#80) in the 2016 NHL Draft.  The Devils would use the 12th overall pick to select Michael McLeod, the 6’2 center from the Mississauga Steelheads.

McLeod has been described as one of the best skaters in this draft, but has problems with finishing.  He is projected to be a playmaker at the next level.  If I could describe this pick, it would be meh.  HockeyProspect.com talked about McLeod at length in their 2016 NHL Draft Black Book, and it wasn’t a glowing write-up.  Their scouts love his size and his skating ability, as well as his passing skills.  The one knock on him they mention is his scoring.  They mentioned that he fell to 19th on their list because his passes up scoring opportunities, or his just missed great opportunities.  That’s not encouraging at all.  One NHL Scout mentioned that their combine interview with him was really bad, and that for a kid who has so much energy on the ice, he doesn’t have much off.

Future Considerations also has a very in-depth profile on McLeod.  Some things they praise are his skating, his hands, his defensive play, and his all around play.  They mention how he can set up scoring chances with his speed and passing.  Some things that they point out as weaknesses are inconsistent play and bad passes.  They project him as a top 6 two-way center at the NHL level.

I can’t say that I’m thrilled with this pick.  It’s early to tell for sure, but I’m not a big fan of a player who has a hard time finishing.  Time will tell how the pick plays out, and I hope he proves me wrong, but I’m just very meh with this pick.

Prospect Profiles: Rounds 4-7

Rounds 4-7 are also going to be under one post.  These rounds are where teams will look for gems or project picks.  Obviously you can find great players in these rounds (Johnny Gaudreau, Joe Pavelski, and Jamie Benn come to mind), but it’s not something that happens often.  It’s unlikely, but hopefully the Devils can end up finding a gem in the later rounds.  There’s not much out there for these players, so these will be more of overviews than in depth looks.  The prospects in this were picked because of draft rankings and mock drafts.  First up is round 4.

Round 4

Ross Colton-Left Wing

A New Jersey native, Colton played U16 hockey with the Mercer Chiefs and New Jersey Rockets before going to play prep school hockey for the Taft School.  He has spent the last two seasons with the Cedar Rapid RoughRiders of the USHL. Colton put up 33 points in 58 games during his rookie season, and upped his totals to 66 in 55 games this season.  Ross is committed to the University of Vermont for the 2016-17 season.  One thing about Ross is that he is already 19 years old, so he is an overage prospect.  See his Elite Prospects page here, and a write up on the USA Hockey website from the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game here.  The Draft Analyst has Colton going to the Devils in round 4, pick 101 in their mock. 

Jack Kopacka-Left Wing 

Jack played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL last season.  His season before that was split between Compuware U18, USA U17, and Sault Ste. Marie.  Kopacka had a pretty decent season for the Greyhounds.  He put up 43 points in 67 games.  He also put up 4 points in 12 playoff games.  Elite Prospects had a small write up on Kopacka that said some encouraging things about the big forward.  The one that stood out was how he played himself into a top 6 OHL role.  You can find the small write up and his career stats over at Elite Prospects.  

David Quenneville-Defenseman 

The brother of Devils prospect John Quenneville, David has been a consistent point producer in his career.  Quenneville plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL.  During the 2014-15 season, he put up 20 points in 66 games.  He played in one playoff game that year, and didn’t put up any points.  His 2015-16 season saw his point totals jump from 20 to 55.  Medicine Hat didn’t make the playoffs this year, but it was a very good year for Quenneville.  He lead the Tigers defense in points, and was third overall.  The only two players to put up more than him were overager Chad Butcher and 2017 eligible Mason Shaw.  Read an article about Quenneville here, and look at his stats more in depth at Elite Prospects.  The Draft Analyst has Quenneville going to the Devils in round 4, pick 104 in their mock draft. 

Jordan Sambrook-Defenseman

Sambrook played for a very good Erie Otters team this year.  Sambrook was a rookie for Erie this year, and ended up coming in 3rd in rookie scoring for defensemen with 27 points in 67 games.  He lead all Otters defensemen in goals with 9.  Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects described Sambrook as a “smooth-skating two-way defenceman that displays solid creativity and offensive instincts, as well as a strong defensive game.”  That’s something that you like to hear.  You can read what else Joe had to say, and the rest of Sambrook’s stats, here at Elite Prospects.  Brock Otten from OHL Prospects ranked Sambrook 34th on his top 50 OHL Players for the 2016 NHL Draft.  One thing to note from his small write up is that if he played on a team with less depth, he would be a higher ranked prospect.  He could be a very good pick if he’s taken in the 4th or 5th round.  You can read the rest of Brock’s assessment here.  

Brandon Gignac-Center

Brandon is a prospect that will probably be drafted before the 4th round, but NHL Central Scouting has him ranked 98th (NA Skaters), so he is on the list.  Gignac is a small player, but has skill.  He put up 61 points in 67 games with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.  He was 5th on the team in points, and ended up with 16 points in 20 playoff games.  He also put up 40 points in his rookie season.  His goal totals jumped from 9 to 24, so it’s nice to see him finish when given the chance.  I doubt he is available in the 4th round, but if he is, he’d be a good get for the Devils.  See his Elite Prospects page here

Round 5

Mitchell Mattson-Center

Mattson had a very successful high school career in Minnesota.  He put up 146 points in 96 games across 3 years of high school hockey.  He wasn’t as successful at the USHL level, though, as he only put up 9 points in 37 games.  He’s committed to North Dakota, who is coming off of a National Championship.  He’s going to play for one of, if not the best college hockey program in the country, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares there.   Chris Dilks over at SB Nation College Hockey mentioned Mattson and how he’s received attention even though he hasn’t put up the points in a league like the USHL.  Mattson’s Elite Prospects page can be found here

Carsen Twarynski-Defenseman/Winger

Twarynski is an interesting prospect.  Some sites have him listed as a winger, some as a defenseman, and some has him listed as both.  He played for the Calgary Hitmen this year, and ended up putting up 20 goals/25 assists for 45 points in 67 games.  Looking at these stats, it’s safe to say he spent more time as a forward.  He was fourth on the Hitmen in goals and sixth in points.  You can look at all of Twarynski’s stats over at Elite Prospects.  You can also read an article by Ryan Pike over at The Hockey Writers here.  It’s a short article, but a good one.

David Bernhardt-Defenseman

Bernhardt has spent the last five years playing in the Djurgårdens IF Hockey.  He has yet to play in the Swedish Hockey League, but put up 38 points in 45 games in the J20 SuperElit league, which is the highest level of junior hockey in Sweden.  He was 25th overall in scoring, and was the second highest scoring defensemen in the SuperElit League.  There’s a very good chance he plays in the SHL next year, which will have a big impact on his development as a player.  You can look at his stats here.  For what it’s worth, Draft Site has Bernhardt going to the Devils in the 5th round in their mock.

Joseph Woll-Goaltender

Many fans might argue that the Devils don’t need to draft a goalie this year.  Wedgewood is still young and had a decent year for the A-Devils, Blackwood was the best goalie in the OHL, and maybe the entire CHL, and Ken Appleby was fantastic in the ECHL.  These are all young goalies, but I don’t think you can really get enough of them.  Goalies are weird, and it’s hard to project their development.  For that reason, Woll might be worth the 5th round pick.  The US National Development Team Program product played in 33 games this year for the US National U18 team, putting up a .918 SV% and a 2.14 GAA.  He also played in 12 USHL games for the NTDP, putting up a less than stellar .898 SV% and 2.60 GAA.  That being said, he was a 17 year old and the USHL has older players.  Woll also played in three U18 World Championship games, where he put up a very stellar .947 SV% and 1.34 GAA.  He is committed to Boston College, where he will look to be replace Thatcher Demko as the starter.  BC won’t be as good next year, so he should face some shots.  He could be a good project pick in the 5th round.  Check out his full list of stats here

Round 6

Dante Salituro-Center

It’s somewhat surprising that Salituro hasn’t been drafted already.  He has produced every year he’s been in the OHL, but still went undrafted.  If you look at this Elite Prospects page, you can see for yourself that he’s been very consistent.  He’s also gotten better every year.  The knock on Salituro, and probably why he hasn’t been drafted yet, is his size.  He’s 19 years old and he’s only 5’9″, 174 lbs.  His first three years in the CHL have looked something like Tyler Johnson’s, and we all know how he turned out.  Obviously I’m not saying he will turn into a Tyler Johnson like player, but I think he could be worth a shot in the 6th round.  If not and he goes undrafted again, he could be someone the Devils look to sign as a free agent, like they did with Joseph Blandisi.  You can find his full stats, and a write up from Tyler Parchem here

Grant Jozefek-Right Wing

Another New Jersey Native, Jozefek played for the North Jersey Avalanche at the 16U and Midget levels, and then for the New Jersey Hitmen at the 16U and 18U levels. He was drafted 7th overall in the 2013 USHL Futures Draft by the Muskegon Lumberjacks.  He was traded by the Lumberjacks to the Lincoln Stars, where he spent the last two seasons.  His rookie season saw him put up 26 points in 51 games, but only 4 goals.  His 2015-16 season saw much better production with 53 points in 56 games.  He also put up 21 goals, which is a huge improvement from his previous year.  The small forward is committed to Northeastern.  The knock on Jozefek is he is a small kid, only 5’10” and 170 lbs.  He’s going to play against much better and bigger competition while at Northeastern, so it will be a big test for him.  It might be worth it for the Devils to look at the NJ native with their 6th round pick.  See his full stats here.

Wade Allison-Right Wing

Another USHL player, Wade Allison dominated in every league he was in before joining the Tri-City Storm for the 2014-15 season.  His first year with Tri-City saw him put up 13 points in 35 games, and then 2 points in 7 playoff games.  His latest season was much better, though.  Wade put up 47 points in 56 games, but was outstanding in the playoffs.  Allison had 16 points in 11 games, helping the Storm win their first ever Clark Cup.  He ended up finishing in second for points in the playoffs.  Wade is also a big kid already, standing 6’2″ tall and weighing 205 lbs.  He is committed to play hockey at Western Michigan University. You can find his full stats here

Round 7

Greg Printz-Left Wing

Really not much out there about Printz.  He’s a tall kid at 6’2″, and weighs 196 lbs.  He mostly played for the Selects Hockey Academy 18U team this year, where he put up 50 points in 26 games.  He played two games for USNTDP  in the USHL and then two more for the U18 team.  He put up 0 points across those four games.  He joined the Chicago Steel of the USHL for 6 games, putting up 2 points.  He is committed to Providence College.  Not much to see here.  Maybe you pick him and pray he turns into something, but not many 7th round picks make the NHL.  Full stats here

Casey Fitzgerald-Defenseman 

The overager had a solid season for Boston College.  He put up 27 points in 39 games for the Eagles.  He has spent time with the USNTDP, and has represented the US in a few international tournaments.  I got the chance to see BC play some games this season, and Fitzgerald looked very solid.  BC isn’t going to be as good next year, as they lost a good portion of their top players, so Fitzgerald will play the tough minutes and can prove himself.  Oh yeah, his dad is also the Devils assistant GM, so there’s that little tidbit of info.  Check out his USNTDP stats at Elite Prospects

Final Thoughts

There’s a pretty good chance none of the players the Devils pick from rounds 4-7 end up in the NHL, or that they make a significant impact if they do.  But these are the rounds where steals happen, or you find a gem that you hope does contribute at the NHL level.  If the Devils end up with one player from these rounds that helps them in the future, it’ll be a win.  When it comes down to it, we can only hope that the Devils can get one of these picks to stick, and if they’re lucky, maybe one ends up as the next Joe Pavelski. 

Prospect Profile: Round 3 Forwards

The third round will be split into one post for forwards, and one post for defensemen.  There’s not as much out there about some of these prospects, so one post for each position seemed like the best idea for the readers.  So let’s get into it.  First up we will look at some forwards the Devils might look at in the 3rd round!

Joey Anderson-Right Wing

Anderson is a USA Hockey National Development Team Program product from Roseville, MN.  Anderson dominated high school hockey, putting up 50 points in 25 games back in 2013-14.  He would join the NTDP U17 team for the 2014-15 season, where he put up 66 points in 90 games spread across the USDP and the USHL.  He would also put up 5 points in 6 games for USA at the U17 World Hockey Challenge.  He jumped to the U18 team for the 2015-16, where he would put up 77 points in 89 games spread across the USDP and USHL.

Steve Kournianos had this to say about Anderson, “he likely won’t develop into the kind of guy you can lean on above anyone else, but he’s fast and reliable enough to develop as a top-six power play specialist.” Sounds good to me as a 3rd round guy.  Steve also had him going to the Oilers with pick 62.  Anderson is committed to Minnesota-Duluth.  See his full stats at Elite Prospects.

Trent Frederic-Center

Another NTDP product, Frederic is a big center from St. Louis, MO.  He’s 18 years old and is 6’2″, 205 lbs, and is committed to the University of Wisconsin.  Frederic didn’t have the best season with the U17 team in 2014-15.  He only scored 19 points in 90 games spread across the USDP and USHL.  He represented USA at the U17 World Hockey Challenge and only managed 1 point in 7 games.  He stepped his game up when he moved up the U18 level.  His point totals went up to 54 points in 84 games across the USDP and USHL.  One blemish for Frederic is his penalty minutes.  He had 96 PIMs over those 84 games, which isn’t good.  But as for his overall game, he progressed positively.  He put up a point per game (7 in 7) at the U18 World Championship.

Draft Site had this to say about Frederic, “Centre with good size who plays strong on the puck and good puckhandling skills. More of a North-South straight line skater with little lateral mobility. Displays a very good shot, with nice release.”  He also mentioned that he needs to develop his offensive game, and that he has the chance at Wisconsin.  See Frederic’s Elite Prospect page here.

Vladimir Kuznetsov-Right Wing

Kuznetsov is an interesting player.  The big winger (6’1″, 214 lbs) is from Yekaterinburg, RUS, and played in Russia for most of his career.  He spent the 2014-15 season split between the Russia U17 league and the MHL (basically Russia’s development league).  He put up 7 points in 8 games for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg U17 in the U17 league, and 12 points in 43 games for Avto Yekaterinburg in the MHL.  Kuznetsov competed at the U17 World Hockey Challenge, putting up 1 point in 6 games.  He put up 2 points in 10 other International Jr. games.  Kuznetsov was picked 1st overall by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL in 2015 CHL Import Draft.  Kuznetsov would join Acadie-Bathurst for the 2015-16 season.  It was a very solid rookie campaign for Kuznetsov, putting up 58 points in 68 games for an 0.85 PPG clip.  His playoffs weren’t so stellar, putting up 1 point in 5 games, but overall it was a solid season for him.

Kuznetsov played for the Russian U18 team at the U18 World Championships.  He was one of Russia’s oldest players, as the entire U18 team that stayed in Russia was suspended for doping. All things considering, he had a solid performance at the U18 tournament, putting up 3 points in 5 games.  Had he stayed in Russia, there’s a good chance he would’ve been caught up in the doping scandal.  Steve Kournianos from the Draft Analyst described him as “a fearless, crash-and-bang sniper who is super quick on his feet and can unload a heavy shot.”  Steve mentions that he there are times he looks lost on the ice.  He did end up 4th in rookie scoring in the QMJHL, so he is worth a look in the 3rd round.  You can find his Elite Prospects page here.

Jordan Kyrou-Right Wing/Center

Kyrou is ranked pretty high by NHL Central Scouting, but a few mock drafts have him going to or near the Devils in the 3rd round.  The right wing/center isn’t the biggest kid right now, standing 6’0″ and weighing 179 lbs.  He will need to add to his frame in the NHL level, but that’s still a solid frame to build on.  He was a 2nd round pick by the Sarnia Sting in the OHL Priority Selection draft.  He had a very solid rookie season for Sarnia, putting up 36 points in 63 games.  He finished in the top 10 of rookie scoring, and outscored players like Mike McLeod and Will Bitten.  His 2015-16 season was even better than his rookie season.  He put up 51 points in 65 games, and was a point per game player in the playoffs (7 in 7) for Sarnia.  Kyrou has represented Canada in some international tournaments as well, playing in the U17 World Hockey Challenge and U18 World Championship.  He scored 4 points in 5 games at the U17-WHC, and 8 points in 7 games at the U18 World Championship.

Kyrou is more of a two-way player than anything.  Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects described Kyrou as “a highly mobile transitional two-way playmaker who always looks poised and reads the game well.”  Joe also mentioned that he can play in all situations, and transitions to offense very well.  Steve Kournianos from The Draft Analyst pointed out his flaws, saying “he’s battled through inconsistent play and is prone to turning the puck over at inopportune times, but he’s too tantalizing a prospect to pass over in a draft thin in pure skill.” The last part of that is encouraging.  The Devils could use someone who has skill and a solid two-way game.  He seems more of a project player than anything, but I think you can take those risks in the 3rd round.  Here is Kyrou’s Elite Prospects page.

 

Prospect Profile: Kale Clague

We end our 2nd round profiles with the Brandon Wheat Kings’ Kale Clague.  I’m going to admit now that I’m not sure if Clague will be available when the Devils pick, but there’s always a chance he slides down draft boards.  He was very reliable for Brandon this year, and was one of the team’s top defensemen.  He recently helped Brandon win the WHL Championship, thus securing a Memorial Cup spot.  Let’s take a deeper look at Clague below.

The Player

Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Left
From: Regina, SK, CAN
Birthday: 06/05/1998
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 179 lbs

Rankings

Bob McKenzie Mid-Season: 37th
Craig Button: 33rd
The Draft Analyst: 33rd
NHL Central Scouting: 27th (NA Skaters)
McKeen’s Hockey: 30th

By looking at these rankings, it’s seems like Clague won’t be around for the Devils in the 2nd round unless they trade up or trade down with their first.  I’m sure McKenzie will have him ranked a little higher in his final rankings.  He could end up being a late 1st/early 2nd round pick.  Draft Site has him going to 27th in their mock draft, and The Draft Analyst has him going 44th in their mock.

Stats

Klague Stats(Stats via Elite Prospects)

Clague doesn’t have amazing numbers, but still decent nonetheless.  He put up 43 points in 71 games, which was good for third among Wheat Kings defense.  He really stepped his game up in the WHL playoffs, putting up 14 points in 21 games.  That put him in first among Wheat Kings defense in playoff scoring.  This is probably why his draft stock is rising, and could be the reason he is gone before the Devils have a chance to pick him up.  He was also the captain of the Canada Black U17 at the U17 World Hockey Challenge.

Quotes

Zenon Herasymiuk, Future Considerations:

“Clague is possibly the most purely talented defenseman I have seen come down the pipe in the last few years. He has soft hands and a powerful stride which he uses to dynamically transition the puck and create offense for his team. He has a big, booming shot, poise and an electric skill set which make him difficult to contain when he has space and a threat to create offense at all times. He has the potential to be one of the top defenseman in the entire draft class.”

A ton of praise from Future Considerations here.  Saying that someone is a the most purely talented defenseman in years is a big, big compliment.  According to Future Considerations, Clague has great offensive tools.  Soft hands, powerful stride, and booming shot are all things you like to hear about a potential defenseman.  Future Considerations sees him as a potential top defenseman from this draft, so only time will tell if that’s correct.

Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects:

“An offensive defenseman in nature, Clague is a tantalizing blend of speed, cunning, and craftiness. Very smooth skater that is mobile at a professional level. Great vision and is able to control plays with the puck on his stick. Creative passer. Will need to work on his shot and consistency moving forward, but has the undeniable raw skills and fundamental attributes of a puck-moving offensive defenseman. All-in-all, a highly skilled defenseman that has the potential to be a proficient producer from the back end.”

Curtis Joe don’t praise Clague as much as Future Considerations, but he does say positive things about the defenseman.  Joe from Elite Prospects mentions how he needs to work on his shot and consistency, but he has the raw tools to become a very good puck-moving defenseman.  He did praise his skating and passing abilities, though.  Joe ends by pointing out that Clague could become a proficient producer, which falls in line with what Future Considerations said.

Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:

A wiry two-way blueliner with quickness and an exceptional understanding of his position, Clague had a strong enough second half to finish among the WHL’s top scoring draft-eligible rearguards. Even more impressive is that he did so without the benefit of logging big minutes, as he took a back seat to older prospects Ivan Provorov and Macoy Erkamps. The Wheaties may be a stacked team, but there were periods when Clague was the back end’s calming presence, which in our view says a lot about his upside. He can break out with hard, accurate stretch passes or a smooth, calculated rush up ice.”

There are a few things that I want to touch on from Steve’s assessment of Clague.  First is that he has understands defense.  Knowing your position is important, and shows good hockey IQ.  Second is that he had the season he had without logging top minutes.  He played for a clearly stacked team in Brandon, and he managed to put up 43 points without seeing top defensive minutes.  The final thing is how he was a calming presence for Brandon.  On a team that has a defenseman like Ivan Provorov, that’s a pretty big deal.

Scoring Line’s Opinion

I don’t think Clague slides down to 41, but that doesn’t mean the Devils won’t have the chance to draft him.  Trades do happen in the draft.  The Devils could trade down in the 1st round and pick up a high 2nd in the process, or they could trade up in the 2nd to draft him.  I’m not saying they should do either of these, especially trade down with the 11th overall pick, but it’s a possibility.  If he does end up falling to 41, I think the Devils should take him.  He’s a very solid defenseman, and he has the potential to be one of the better from this draft.  He should see top pairing minutes next year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses.  I see Clague as a guy I don’t think the Devils will get, but will be very happy if they end up getting him.

Video

Not much out there for Clague.  Here’s a short video of him talking about the WHL Prospect Combine.

(Photo Courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Prospect Profile: Will Bitten

Our next prospect had an interesting year to say the least.  Will Bitten played for the Flint Firebirds.  If you’re not familiar with what the team went through this year, you can read up on it here.  Long story short, the team owner was an idiot.  The team wasn’t good at all, either.  But through all of this, Will Bitten had a hell of a year.  Learn more about Will below.

The Player

Position:Center
Shoots: Right
From: Ottawa, ON, CAN
Birthday: 07/10/1998
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 163 lbs

Rankings

Bob McKenzie Mid-Season: 40th
Craig Button: 29th
The Draft Analyst: 20th
NHL Central Scouting: 43rd (NA Skaters)
Future Considerations: 26th

Bitten has some interesting rankings.  I think McKenzie’s final rankings will be telling.  But no doubt, there’s people out there that see him as a first round talent.  NHL Central Scouting has him ranked the lowest.  In some recent mock drafts, Bitten has gone to the Bruins at 49th, and the Blue Jackets at 34th.  He seems like someone who will be around at 41 for the Devils.  

Stats

Bitten Stats(Stats via Elite Prospects)

As you can see, Bitten has been a steady producer his entire career.  Unfortunately for him, he’s played on horrible teams in the OHL.  His rookie year he was on the Plymouth Whalers.  The Whalers finished that year in the bottom four of the OHL, and it would end up being their last season in Plymouth.  They moved to Flint and became the Flint Firebirds for the 2015-16 season.  It somehow was a worse year for the Firebirds.  Between the ownership problems and team struggles, it just wasn’t good.  They finished as a bottom four team again.  Those teams did have some bright spots, and Bitten was one of them.

Bitten was a 0.49 point per game player for Plymouth in 2014-15.  This was very impressive considering he was 16 and playing on a horrible team.  His recent year was even better.  He lead the Firebirds in points with 65 in 67 games.  He was far and away the team’s best player.  The next highest scorer had 48 points.  His point per game average was a 0.97.  He lead the team in both goals and assists as well.  He was a 30 goal scorer, while only one other player on Flint scored more than 20.  Bitten has produced while playing for Team Canada as well.  He put up 5 points in 5 games at the U17 World Hockey Challenge, and 8 points in 7 games at the U18 World Championship.  

Quotes

Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:

“Bitten is somewhat undersized, but he has tremendous balance and escapability. He is a very good skater with excellent breakaway speed, and can beat defenders to the outside or turn them inside-out thanks to a variety of on-the-go jukes and fakes. He’s a disciplined solider who follows instruction, always willing to dial down his role in order to do what’s best of the team. Bitten knows what to do with the puck, owning a soft set of hands and excellent hand-eye coordination. He’s one of the draft’s best at making something out of nothing, and we think he’d be one of the circuit’s top scorers had he had more finishers to work with.”

Elite Prospects:

“A smart offensive catalyst that consistently displays outstanding work ethic, elite hockey sense, and an ability to stay ahead of the play in all three zones. Very naturally gifted skater that moves around the ice with ease. Excels in pressure situations and uses his vision to predict where the puck is going to be, and proactively gets his body into a position where he can either take it away or take off up the ice. Offensively, he has a very creative streak, and knows what kinds of plays he can make in all situations; he also has an exceptional release on his shot, which he can get off quickly. Defensively, he is a buzzsaw that will not let up on the opposition, creating problems for them by causing turnovers and playing strong positionally. Will Bitten has all of the tools to become a very dangerous two-way forward that can produce strong numbers at the next level.”

Bill Placzek, Draft Site:

“Lightweight speedster who is strong in his carries. His low center of gravity makes him hard to tag. Can score. Has soft, quick mitts and good IQ in the attack zone. Works hard and long on the forecheck, his size not an impediment. His set of gears and good anticipation yield many opportunities and the fact that he plays fearless in the dirty areas only makes opponents respect him more. Is committed and good with the biscuit in his own end. Doesn’t possess a big frame and is going to need weight room development to up the odds of his chances to make it. But you have to see his grit, desire and persistence as qualities that he can climb the rungs.”

Nick Tropper, ISS Mentorship Scout:

“Hard working forward whose game has been consistent and steady all season, despite some awful playing conditions, which is impressive. Has some explosiveness and can finish offensively. Projects as a premium middle-six forward able to slide up and down the lineup.”

Bitten is universally praised by all four of these people.  Each person talks about how Bitten is a hard working player with skill and vision.  I like how he plays without the puck.  He can create turnovers, gives the opposition problems, and is very good positionally.  He might be a little small for a center in the NHL, but he could become a solid winger.  I love what everyone says about his offense.  He’s creative with the puck and has great vision.  One thing that really stands out is that he can finish offensively.  Elite Prospects mentions that he has an explosive shot and a quick release, and that he’s a gifted skater with solid vision.  These quotes make him out to be a solid two-way forward with middle six potential.  

Scoring Line’s Opinion

I would be ecstatic if the Devils somehow landed Bitten at 41.  Yes he is small, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t succeed in the NHL.  We’ve seen smaller players do that recently.  He put up almost a point per game for a team that was horrible, and played through some very hostile situations in Flint.  He’s put up points everywhere he has played.  I think Will could end up being a steal in the 2nd round.  He’s a solid two-way player, and is someone I think could slide in the draft.  If that’s the case, the Devils should look into getting him.  He could be a important piece of the rebuild. 

Video

(Photo Courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Prospect Profile: Taylor Raddysh

We continue our 2nd round prospect profiles with a big right winger, Taylor Raddysh.  Raddysh played on the top line of the Erie Otters this year, which means he played with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat.  These are two extremely skilled players.  Raddysh didn’t look out of place, though.  He more than held his own on one of the best teams in the OHL.  Let’s take a look at Raddysh.  

The Player

Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
From: Toronto, ON, CAN
Birthday: 02/18/1998
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 198 lbs

Rankings

Bob McKenzie Mid-Season: 32nd
Craig Button: 25th
The Draft Analyst: 50th
NHL Central Scouting: 36th (NA Skaters)
ISS Hockey: 28th

Rankings all over the place, my favorite thing!  I’m curious to see where Bob McKenzie has him ranked in his final rankings.  The Draft Analyst and NHL Central Scouting have Raddysh in the Devils 2nd round range.  ISS and Button have him ranked in what would be the 1st round, so there’s that.  As always, hard to really tell where Raddysh will go from these rankings.  For what it’s worth, the Draft Analyst had Raddysh going 42nd to the Senators in their mock, and Draft Site had him going 39th to Montreal in their mock.  

Stats

Radysh Stats(Stats via Elite Prospects)

Raddysh’s 73 points were good for 20th in OHL scoring.  He scored at a 1.09 point per game clip, which is very impressive.  Raddysh ended up being Erie’s third best scorer, behind Strome (A 3rd overall pick) and DeBrincat.  He was also third in assists.  Something that stands out is that Raddysh rarely takes penalties. He’s had 31 penalty minutes in 125 games, and while that isn’t something you normally look at, it’s good to see a big kid like him have some discipline.  His playoff run with Erie saw him put up 10 points in 12 games.  There’s not much international experience for Raddysh, but he’s put up points in multiple tournaments throughout his career.  Overall, he’s put up points everywhere he has played.  

Quotes

Brock Otten, OHL Prospects Blog:

“Raddysh is just a really hard working complimentary offensive player who has excelled doing the “dirty work” for a guy like Dylan Strome. He has great size at 6’2/200lbs and uses that to drive the net, win battles in the corners, and open up space for his linemates. Raddysh just has that knack for finding open space in the offensive zone, which points to him having terrific hockey sense. I particularly love his vision coming off the wall. Creates a lot of scoring chances by making great passes after gaining/maintaining possession along the boards (similar to a guy like Matthew Tkachuk). His overall puck skill and skill set is not flashy, but he does whatever is needed on a scoring line and that’s why he’s a valuable player and could make a valuable pro. If he can really improve his skating (particularly power), he could be more of a driving force on a line.”

Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:

“Goal-scoring power forward with an NHL-ready build who may be a bit undervalued playing alongside Erie’s notable talent the last two seasons. He was able to rack up assists playing on the Otters’ top line with Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat, but keep in mind that his speed and tenacity on the forecheck created scoring opportunities without the benefit of getting his name of the scoresheet. Raddysh is a very good skater with good closing speed, which he combines with a long reach to force turnovers.”

Bill Placzek, Draft Site:

“Bullish winger who goes to the battle areas. A playmaking winger with a accurate release and heavy shot. Smart and positionally sound, he has a bit of edge and decent puck skills. Displays good vision and patience in his carries. Holds until the right moment, whether it be a carry off the wall and a quick pass, or as he sees linemates getting open. Has decent balance and movement but needs to build his acceleration and stop/start quickness.”

If you get one thing from these quotes, it’s that Raddysh is a winger that plays hard, and because of that, he can create chances for his teammates.  The way he plays gave guys like DeBrincat and Strome options.  I love that he can create turnovers, because that’s something every team needs.  He uses his size to win puck battles and play well along the boards.  Another thing that I like to hear (if you couldn’t tell by now) is that he has good vision and hockey sense.  That’s something I like to see in a prospect.  The last thing I want to touch on is his skating.  Brock and Bill mentioned that he needs to improve his skating, especially things like power skating and acceleration.  Luckily, these are things that you can teach and develop.  

Scoring Line’s Opinion

Raddysh is an interesting prospect.  As I’ve stated before in these profiles, the Devils could use a power forward type player in the future.  Raddysh is the type of guy who can create turnovers, as well as chances for his linemates because of his play.  He can also chip in offensively.  I wouldn’t hate it if the Devils picked him at 41, but it would depend on who is available.  He’s a very solid player, but is he going to be better than guys still up for grabs?  Brock mentioned that Raddysh is a complimentary offensive player, and that could be something the Devils look at in their 2nd round pick.  When it comes down to it, Raddysh would be a solid pick at 41, but might not be the best pick.

Video

(Photo courtesy of Ben Nelms/Getty Images)

 

Prospect Profile: Frederic Allard

We continue our 2nd round profiles with a high-scoring defenseman from Quebec.  Frederic Allard was easily the best defensemen on the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, and it wasn’t even close.  He has been playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League since he was 15 years old, and has produced every season.  It’s pretty known that the QMJHL is a high scoring league, but producing as a 15 year old is extremely impressive.  Find out more about the high-scoring defenseman below.

The Player

Position: Defenseman 
Shoots: Right
From: Quebec, QC, CAN
Birthday: 05/12/1998
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 179 lbs

Rankings

Bob McKenzie Mid-Season: Not Ranked
Craig Button: 98th
The Draft Analyst: 39th
NHL Central Scouting: 32nd (NA Skaters)

As always, it’s kind of all over the place with these rankings.  Button had him extremely low considering where he was ranked by The Draft Analyst and NHL Central Scouting.  Bob didn’t have him ranked, but he only does up to 60, so he could’ve potentially been ranked higher than 98.  39th and 32nd on the NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters) would put him around the Devils 2nd round pick.  The Draft Analyst has him going to 46th overall to the Red Wings in their mock draft.

Stats

Allard Stats(Stats via Elite Prospects)

Let’s start with the obvious and point out that Allard has improved every season he has played in the QMJHL.  He put up 23 points in 61 games as a 15 year old, and was Saguenéens top scoring defenseman.  Yes, you read that right, he was his their highest scoring defenseman at 15.  Allard put up 1 point in 3 playoff games that year as well.  His 16 year old season was even more impressive.  in 62 games, he put up 30 points.  His goal total dipped a bit, but his assists went way up.  These numbers put him 7th in scoring for the Saguenéens, and he was again their highest scoring defenseman.  Yup, you read that right again, he lead the team’s defense in scoring as a 16 year old as well.  He also had 1 point in 5 playoff games that year.  His draft eligible season was incredible, as he put up 59 points in 64 games, as well as 3 points in 6 playoff games.  He was tied for second in points by a  defenseman, fifth in goals by a defenseman, and second in assists by a defenseman.  Allard had the most powerplay goals by a defenseman with 11.  Want to guess what he did for the third year in a row? Yup, he lead all Saguenéens defense in scoring, and was third on the team.  The next closes defenseman had 16 points.  So yeah, Allard has some serious offensive skill.

Quotes

Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects 2016: 

“A tenacious two-way defenceman that has a distinct willingness to do whatever it takes to keep his team up. Battles hard for puck possession and has a very good active stick. Not consistent enough to be relied upon in all situations, especially under high pressure, but is definitely getting there and his game is rounding out well at an accelerated pace. Possesses a hard, accurate shot and is creative with his passes. As such, his primary function as an offensive defenceman is to be played on the forecheck and in situations where pressure is sustained. All-in-all, a hard-nosed two-way defenceman that has the raw tools and the upward-trending tendencies that point to a positive development path.”

Elite Prospects: 

“Strong two-way play. Great offensive instincts and abilities. Not all that flashy, but when he’s on his game he is able to become a difference-making force from the back end. Think Justin Schultz but with a little bit more aggressiveness.”

Bill Placzek, Draft Site:

“Nice puck moving defenseman with four way skating ability, good vision, foot speed, and agility. QBs the PP with good puck distribution, and no hesitation in attempts to activate into the slot when the attack calls. Can make the outlet pass well. Still has a ways to go in honing his defensive side, but long term there is a foundation to build on.”

Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:

“He has a very hard shot, and he doesn’t shy away from using it. His one-on-one play is among the QMJHL’s best, and he will do whatever it takes to win.”

A good amount to digest here, so we’re going to look at the thing that was mentioned the most.  Allard is a strong two-way defenseman who plays the game hard.  He has great offensive abilities as well as great vision and creativity with the puck.  It’s clear that Allard is a threat with the puck, but it’s nice to see that he also plays a solid defensive game.  If there’s one thing you can take away from these quotes, it’s that Allard has a hard shot, and that he shoots often.  He’s also a competitor, which you like to see in a young defenseman.  I think the most important thing here is that he has developed nicely as a player, and he can and should develop his weaknesses.  Some players have weaknesses that they never fix or work on, and that doesn’t seem to be the case for Allard.  

Scoring Line’s Opinion

Sign us up for a defenseman with a ton of offensive skill.  With guys like Adam Larsson, Damon Severson, and Steve Santini, the Devils have a solid core of defensemen, but they’re missing a piece that can contribute big time offensively.  Allard could be that guy.  The kid can put up points, and for a team like the Devils, that’s desperately needed.  Yeah, he might not be the best in his own end right now, but that can be addressed.  It’s somewhat concerning, but not enough to ignore what he has done in terms of offense.  He might not be available at 41, but if he is, he could be a very solid pick.  The Devils will need a high-scoring defenseman in the future, and the best way to get that is through the draft.  

Video

Unfortunately, no video could be found of Allard.

(Photo courtesy of Francois Laplante/Getty Images)