Drouin, Gibson and Lazar lead scouts’ take on top 10 NHL-drafted prospects
From Tampa Bay Lightning top pick Jonathan Drouin to Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Scott Harrington, BTN has teamed up with International Scouting Services to lay out the top 10 NHL-drafted prospects.
The prospects eligible for the list require a birthdate no later than 1993 and can’t have any NHL experience. Therefore, several first-round picks that are still deemed prospects such as the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, Buffalo Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen and Philadelphia Flyers’ Scott Laughton were ineligible for the list for the time they spent in The Show.
Without further ado, here is a look at BTN’s top 10 NHL-drafted prospects courtesy of ISS head scout Ross MacLean.
1. Jonathan Drouin, wing, Tampa Bay Lightning (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL) – With Martin St. Louis turning 39-years-old this June, Drouin seems poised to become Steven Stamkos’ go-to winger in the near future. He showed last year that the sky is the limit for his potential by tallying 41 goals and 105 points in 49 contests. Moreover, he’s proven this season he can do just fine without Colorado Avalanche top pick Nathan MacKinnon by his side with 24 goals and 84 points in 39 games. All indications are that Drouin will make the jump to the NHL next year as he clearly has nothing left to prove in the junior ranks.
Scout’s take: “Drouin tops this list not only because of his excellent skill set and dynamic explosive offensive ability, but also because of his situation,” says MacLean. “Few prospects fit as well with the current makeup of their organizational talent as Drouin does. He’s an electrifying playmaker who can enhance and amplify the skill sets of those around him. Tampa Bay has stockpiled a strong roster of young players capable of playing a high paced and quick transition style of play. Adding Drouin to the mix makes them one of the most potent young offensive teams in the league."
2. John Gibson, goalie, Anaheim Ducks (Norfolk Admirals, AHL) – The Pittsburgh, PA., native, who was selected 39th overall in 2011 by the Ducks, is regarded as the top goaltender outside of the NHL. He began garnering such high praise while he stood on his head during his two seasons with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and led Team USA to gold at the 2013 world junior championship. In his first year in the pros with the Admirals, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Gibson has reassured the Ducks that he’s the real deal by posting a .923 save percentage and 2.27 average in 35 contests.
Scout's take: "Gibson is a tremendously poised goaltender who looks so comfortable in the net at times that you can tell he knows how frustrating he is to shoot against. Gibson dominates the crease and leaves his teammates with the confidence to be bold because they know he will shut the door if they make a mistake. Gibson’s biggest asset is how well he plays under pressure. It seems as though the bigger the game and the tougher the moment, the more likely he is to shine. His technical skill and athleticism won’t blow anyone away, but his technical understanding and mental makeup make him a star in waiting.”
3. Curtis Lazar, centre, Ottawa Senators (Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL) – The 6-foot, 190-pound power forward has the makings of a potential future captain. Lazar, who was selected 17th overall by the Senators in 2013, seems to have the leadership abilities, heart, character, work ethic and talent to lead an NHL club. In addition, throughout his three seasons in Edmonton, he has taken consistent steps forward in his game. He’s mustered 35 goals and 64 points in 47 games this year following scoring 61 points in 72 last year and 31 points in 63 as a rookie.
Scout’s take: “Lazar is the type of player that turns a mediocre team into a contender. He’s a winner. He’s a very complete 200-foot player with excellent leadership qualities and a warrior’s mentality, Lazar can score, dictate the pace of a game, frustrate opponents and can play in any and all situations. He’s perhaps a surprise to be this high compared to some of the other higher profile names, but Lazar’s development continues to trend upwards and his work ethic continues to open up new levels for his game. He will work his way into any coach he plays for because of his heart and he is the model of how to be a successful player. Expect big things from this young man.”
4. Teuvo Teravainen, forward, Chicago Blackhawks (Jokerit Helsinki, SM-liiga) – Tervainen is an ace up the Chicago Blackhawks’ sleeve. Signs point to him being ready to make an impact in the NHL as early as next season. The 5-foot-11, 176-pound forward is already outgrowing the SM-ligga at just 19-years-old. He’s almost maintaining a point-per-game pace in his third season in Helsinki with eight goals and 40 points in 42 games. There, however, are concerns surrounding Tervainen’s defensive play and strength.
Scout’s take: “Teravainen has consistently gotten better over the past three years and proved his worth leading Finland to U20 gold at this year’s World Junior Championship. He continues to excel in Finland’s top men’s league and considering he wasn’t too far from being able to crack the Blackhawks roster out of the draft, it’s safe to assume Teravainen’s time is coming very soon. He’s a smooth and quick skater with tremendous puck skills and excellent vision, but Teravainen’s biggest asset is his subtle deceptions around the puck. He is extremely talented at creating time and space for teammates and has shown an ability to adapt to different styles of teammates and still find offensive success.”
5. Griffin Reinhart, defence, New York Islanders (Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL) – The 6-foot-4, 202-pounder has the potential to develop into a solid shut-down defenceman, comparable to the Philadelphia Flyers’ Brayden Coburn. He’s elevated his game in every passing season in his four years with the Oil Kings in terms of making decisions with the puck and positioning himself without it. Next year will be the true test for him on how well he transitions his game to the pros. It may take the West Vancouver, B.C., native a couple of years to come into his own in the NHL as it has for most stay-at-home defenders.
Scout’s take: “Reinhart is not going to win any scoring titles and isn’t always going to stand out on the ice when he is out there, but what Reinhart offers is stability and not only with his own play on the ice. Reinhart has a natural calming influence on the ice and thinks the game extremely well. He can really calm the game down, but is also capable of playing a versatile game and adapting to most situations the game can throw at him. He’s steady and reliable and has instincts that make him effective on both sides of the puck and in all three zones. He affords his teammates to play a more aggressive style and while he’s not a scoring dynamo, he has offensive upside and will contribute from time to time.”
6. Bo Horvat, centre, Vancouver Canucks (London Knights, OHL) – The Canucks traded Corey Schneider to the New Jersey Devils to draft Horvat for a reason. Simply put, the 6-foot, 203-pounder is the total package. He plays a strong two-way game, is a wizard in the faceoff dot and possesses the offensive upside to slot in as a first or second-line centre in the NHL. Horvat, who has scored 26 goals and 66 points in 45 games this year, projects to develop into a gritty forward comparable to Vancouver’s own Ryan Kesler.
7. Andrei Vasilevski, goalie, Tampa Bay Lightning (Ufa Salavat Yulayev, KHL) –
The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Russian stands behind Gibson as the second best netminder outside of The Show. The bigger the stage, the bigger performance Vasilevski pulls off as he’s posted .933, .950 and .953 save percentages at the last three word junior tourneys in that respective order. In addition, he’s thrived in his second season in the KHL this year, posting a 2.37 average and .919 save percentage in 25 contests.
8. Darnell Nurse, defence, Edmonton Oilers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL) – The Hamilton, Ont., native projects to be a future top-pairing blueliner. He not only possess size at 6-foot-4, 185-pounds with an edge to his game, but he also has offensive upside as he’s potted 12 goals and 45 points in 57 games with the Greyhounds this year. If he doesn’t crack the Oilers next year, he should be a lock to suit up for Team Canada at the world junior championship as a 19-year-old.
9. Joel Armia, wing, Buffalo Sabres (Rochester Americans, AHL) – The Finnish sniper is adapting to the North American game in his first season in the AHL following spending three seasons in the SM-liiga. Armia, who was selected 16th overall in 2011 by the Sabres, is a pure goal scorer with an appealing 6-foot-3, 186-pound stature to boot.
10. Scott Harrington, defence, Pittsburgh Penguins (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, AHL) – The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder shone as a stay-at-home defenceman during his four-year stint with the Knights. His steady play was vital to London winning the 2013 OHL championship. In his 20-year-old season, Harrington has made a smooth transition to the AHL this year, notching three goals and 17 points in 53 games.
Honourable mention: Anthony Mantha, wing, Detroit Red Wings (Val d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) – As the 20th selection of the 2013 NHL entry draft, Mantha has the potential to blossom into a later first-round steal. Following scoring 50 goals last year as an 18-year-old, the 6-foot-5, 204-pounder has elevated his game to the next level this season with 49 goals and 100 points in just 46 games. He reaffirmed he has uncanny goal-scoring abilities at the world junior championship by potting five goals and 11 points for Team Canada.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen