By DraftPro staff

Every draft season there are a handful of names that slip through the cracks for one reason or another and become late round gems. The prospects who were not getting all the first-round hype or headlines for much or all of the season only to end up one of the top prospect the entire draft crop produces when looking back after a couple years. The term often used is a diamond in the rough and below is our mid-season list of potential diamonds.

This ‘Diamonds in the Rough’ video highlights some of these names with breakdowns by various members of the scouting staff at DraftPro, narrated and edited by the talented Kai Farneholtz as well.

BOSTON BUCKBERGER | D | BROOKS BANDITS | AJHL | 5’11” | 172 | L | DOB 06.01.03
“2003 born defensemen with great puck control, footwork and passing. Bit questionable in the top speed dept. But is working hard at developing that area of his game. He displays high end offensive zone awareness and reads developing plays with ease. He has an accurate shot that he keeps low and loaded with power with a nice release. He has high end passing abilities and can place the puck on the tape of his teammates no matter the distance. Defensively he uses his play reading to acutely pressure his opponent and create turnovers. While he’s not an overly physical player, he will still throw his weight around if needed, but seems to prefer using his other skill sets to gain possession when he can. Boston is a two-way d-man who can totally control the flow of the game. He will shut teams down using his puck control and maneuverability in his own zone, or he will make beautiful passes time after time to set up his teammates in the o-zone.” – Matt Hnatiuk

“Steady strides and full of composure on his skates. Strong poise and control of tempo in his game. Smooth skater, solid pushes with balance and the ability to stop and turn when needed. Handles the puck with fluidity. He does not have the quickest hands, but he can quickly move the puck up the ice and generate rushes with tape to tape stretch passes catching his forward in stride. Generates many rushes dishing the puck from his end of the ice connecting with his forwards on the wall or in the middle of the ice. Willing to shoot the puck from just about anywhere, showing he has a tricky mind looking to catch goalies off their angles with out of the norm shots. Anticipates when and where he should move the puck, as well as how he handles pressure on the wall by pinning his man to the glass. For the most part, he eliminates his man from being a threat with a battle on the boards, as well as clearing the front of the net for his goaltender. With proper time and development, he could be a special hidden talent from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.” – Joseph Peters

PAVEL MINTYUKOV | D | SAGINAW SPIRIT | OHL | 6’1” | 192 | L | DOB 11.25.03
“Impacting the play early and often at both ends of the ice for Saginaw of the OHL, Mintyukov has adapted to a new team and country very well. On the ice he has shown impressive strength on the wall and net front, displayed solid all-encompassing mobility both rushing the puck up ice and staying with his check defensively. He uses his smarts to make the right reads and plays at both ends of the rink. Also shows that he can, and rather likes to play chippy and throw the body. The late 2003 born player is poised, patient, and confident with the puck on his blade, using solid vision to scan the ice and find his options, displaying quick hands, also having a dangerous shot, looking for high percentage opportunities, often sneaking deep into the o-zone for a chance, and is a minute-munching, complete defender. Consider me a fan. I could see this talented Russian import selected in the first round come July and playing inside an NHL top four in a few seasons.” – Dan Stewart

VINZENZ ROHRER | RW | OTTAWA 67’S | OHL | 5’11” | 168 | R | DOB 09.09.04
“Found himself at home quick in Ottawa as the import has fit in seamlessly. Now leading all rookies in points with 22 in 28 games. He shows how smart a player he is on a night to night basis. Cerebral instincts that allow him to make decisions at top speed. Super creative iq and makes some high light real dekes in transition. High compete level and motor shift to shift. Struggles a bit when the game gets physical and hangs around the perimeter too much. When things open up watch out for the soft hands and vision. Plays the power play and a little bit on the penalty kill. Fits nicely on the right wing but can play his off wing with a strong backhand. Projects as a middle 6 winger that can play up and down the line up. I’d consider him versatile and able to play a role. Agile skating and high Iq should ease that transition to the next level. See some flashes of a right shot Andreas Johnsson at times.” – Matt Morrison

RUSLAN GAZIZOV | RW | LONDON KNIGHTS | OHL | 5’11” | 187 | L | DOB 01.21.04
“Has immediately had an offensive impact in the OHL for the powerhouse London Knights. He’s a deceptive skater that changes his pace on a dime to fool defenders. Agile and explosive edgework in tight spaces to separate himself for a check and also really hard to knock off the puck once he has a defender on his back. He’s built like a fire hydrant, absorbing contact like a pro and solid puck protection skills. Possesses both the quick offensive mindset to make fast passing plays and the patience to delay and wait for his desired passing lane to open up. Solid vision to survey the ice, create high-danger chances and operate as an above average playmaker. Effective at playing his off wing and that’s where he likes to be. As the season rolls on, I expect more people to notice Gazizov since he is now playing in the OHL and wouldn’t be shocked to see him make a rise in the rankings. I think he’s a second round prospect.” – Jared Brown

JAKUB HUJER | LW | ROUYN-NORANDA HUSKIES | QMJHL | 6’3” | 194 | L | DOB 06.17.04
“Hujer is a solid element on his struggling Huskies team. He stands out on the wing with his impressive size and the level of effort he provides. You will routinely notice him forechecking with an active stick, either in the offensive zone or back in his own end. He’s fairly proficient at stripping pucks off opponents and blocking shots. He doesn’t show hesitation towards getting into board battles though won’t necessarily come away with the puck every time. I would love to see him be more assertive in carrying the puck on his own. Typically, he’s too often the third touch up the ice, meaning he’s often behind the play or dependent on some lesser-skilled teammates making progress up ice. When he does have the puck on his stick in the opposing zone, it usually leads to, at minimum, a scoring chance or an accurate transfer to his linemate. In general, his passes are accurate as well as off his stick with correct timing. On the PP, he’s usually down near the goal line, distributing towards the slot. Finally, as much as I like his defensive game 5on5, it strangely didn’t look as crisp on the PK: he found himself sort of lost in between the dots, a little jittery or chasing the puck carrier. There are some strong elements to work with from the start and, so long as he’s an open learner, he can continue to develop his overall game. A solid mid-round, potential middle of the lineup, pick.” – Christian B-Cote

“An impressive draft season is unfolding in the Czech Extraliga with HC Energie Karlovy Vary. Center Kulich plays an exciting two-way style game and is producing offense at an impressive rate. A slippery, shifty, elusive skater, strong on his edges. Slick puck skills and quick shot release with good mustard behind it that have fared well while playing against men. Excellent anticipation. His one timer and ability to get it off quickly is a real weapon inside the offensive zone. His creativity and puck protection also stand out. Always moving, gets to good spots, tenacious, plays with good speed. He is not just an offensive player but also brings a solid two-way effort. Willing to use his frame and play physical along the wall even when going up against someone larger and older than he. He is a leader and someone teammates gravitate towards following. Plays a mature game. Has jumped up my list as the season has gone on. Likely made his way into a first round spot on a few NHL team boards.” – Dan Stewart

“Bursting onto the international scene, Nordberg has sure made an impact. The big Swede is excellent at using his frame and reach to make it difficult for opponents to manufacture much of anything. This is also a testament of his great positioning defensively. He knows when to apply pressure and is exceptional at getting the puck out of his own zone. The main criticism on Nordberg is his conservative offensive zone play. He sticks to his blue line like glue. However, when playing the puck, he is good at getting it in deep and has hard shot that gets through traffic. In an era that sees a lot of puck moving defensemen coming through the ranks, Nordberg brings a different type of game that still has its place in the NHL. In a draft class that is chalk full of top tier Swedish defensemen, Nordberg is going under the radar. With a bit of work on his offensive play, Nordberg could see himself playing in the NHL in the next few years.” – Andrew LeBlanc

OSCAR PANTZARE | D | FRÖLUNDA HC J18 | J18 REGION | 6’1” | 187 | L | DOB 04.21.04
“Pantzare has really powerful skating and excellent hands. Few defensemen have the offensive upside that Oscar has, as he really can make other top players look like fools. He possesses a lethal shot with great accuracy and reads the game well, especially in the offensive zone. His balance is great as he retains puck-possession and body-control despite receiving hits and pushes. This makes him difficult to stop once traveling at high speed as he combines his speed, balance and great hands to break through. There was hype surrounding him last season entering his first year in Frölunda after recording the most points out of all defensemen in the famous Swedish tournament TV-Pucken. That season was abbreviated, yet since then he has 10 goals and 14 assists in 27 games played. Unfortunately, he has struggled to find consistency in his defensive game and has been playing a bit immature. He hasn’t played a single game with the Frölunda U20 team despite playing in his last season as a U18 player. Notable is that 3 other 2004 born defenseman got the opportunity ahead of Pantzare in the organization. Only playing 27 games over the last two seasons is far from a dream scenario and we should expect him to take further steps in his development and mature a lot as a player as we are now back to a regular schedule.” – Niclas Karlsson

SANDIS VILMANIS | RW | LULEÅ HF J20 | J20 NATIONELL | 6’1” | 194 | L | DOB 01.23.04
“This Latvian born player is a skilled leftwing with many offensive tools in his toolbox. Vilmanis is a combination between a lethal sniper/playmaker and a hard-working power forward. The compete level of this young guy is very high, never quits on a play and can also throw his body into a hit on the forecheck. Has fluid skating with energetic and powerful first steps, but it is his handling with the puck at speed that makes him so dangerous. On the downside he would be inactive in the defensive zone and sometimes come on the wrong side of the attacking defender, so the defensive attribute is an area open for improvement. Clinical when scoring chance is given and he doesn´t hesitate to release his hard, well disguised shot. Vilmanis holds a solid hockey mind which clearly shows in his quick decisions with nice well-timed passes all over the ice. Leads his team (Lulea J20) in both goals and points and it will be exciting to see if he gets the chance of playing with the pros in SHL this year. He is not projected to go in the top rounds but with his season efforts this far I do believe that he can be a diamond in the rough.” – Charlie Thelin

JANI NYMAN | LW | ILVES | LIIGA | 6’3” | 207 | L | DOB 07.30.04
“Nyman has been top 10 of Finnish -04’s for a long time but he has come a long way. Skating has been a major issue for him, even though it’s still not a strength of his, it doesn’t stand out as a weakness against men at Mestis level. He’s a big guy with an elite shot. He loves his wrist shot off a stride and it’s lethal. Nyman isn’t flashy with his stickhandling, but he is effective. He makes mostly simple moves while protecting the puck which he is very great at. He isn’t afraid to drive the net but with that frame you would perhaps like to see more of that. Nyman could be a great fit for a team that doesn’t have that big of a problem with picking players who have some work to do with their skating. I’d personally select him in the second half of the 1st round.” – Mikko Saarela

“He’s a sizable, mobile defenseman who’s always looking to move the puck up the ice. His skills start with a strong skating foundation, with a long, powerful stride. Barabosha is a fantastic puck carrier in transition, using head fakes and shoulder dips to create space for himself. It’s not uncommon for him to take the puck end to end by himself multiple times in one game at the MHL level. On defense, Barabosha boasts a very strong defensive stick and a punishing physical game. He will not allow forwards to beat him to the inside, and does a great job keeping the puck on the perimeter of the ice. Barabosha plays a rover game in the offensive zone, he follows the puck constantly, looking for holes and lanes to jump down into. His passing game is also notable, he’s got the ability to hit small pockets, find teammates in stride, and execute long stretch passes. Overall, Barabosha can be described as a strong, two-way defenseman with bottom four NHL potential.” – Alex Taxman

DANIIL DAVYDOV | C | MHK DYNAMO ST. PETERSBURG | MHL | 5’11” | 165 | L | DOB 03.06.04

“The dynamic duo of Semyon Sinyatkin and Daniil Davydov. The ‘04 Russians are linemates on MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg, with Davydov being the centerman and Sinyatkin mostly playing right wing. Davydov is elite on faceoffs and has high-end IQ and off-puck instincts. He’s also got a nifty set of hands and looks to funnel plays towards the center of the ice. Sinyatkin is a pure offensive force on the wing. His game is all about skill and deception, and his playmaking ability is also truly high-end.” – Alex Taxman