Talent evaluation is subjective by nature.
One scout will see a sure fire top six scorer while another scout might see a AHL journeyman. One might see a can’t miss prospect while the other scout might not see anything to get excited about.
At Draft Prospects Hockey we task our group of evaluators to not only breakdown skill sets of each prospect they observe and speak on progression from view to view, which is very important to track, but also to give their best assessment of what type of future player these kids could eventually become at the highest level in an attempt to give our readers an educated idea of what upside each NHL prospect might have. That can be a daunting task as much change happens between views in a season let alone in the time between viewing a seventeen-year-old boy to when that same boy becomes a twenty-five-year-old man playing at the NHL level. But if you look close enough the clues to make those projections are there.
Below are some select reports on some of the 2022 Draft Class taken from actual game reports. We hope you enjoy these monthly reports this season as we give you, our reader, a small sample of what our evaluators see on the ice.
November 7, 2021
Sudbury Wolves vs Oshawa Generals (OHL)
13 C, Kocha Delic, Sudbury (OHL), 5’10”, 183, L, DOB 03.11.2004
Delic is skilled player with a soft touch on the puck. He scored the only goal for Sudbury firing home a wrister bottom corner from just above the hashmarks. Showed solid lower body movement through the shot to produce heat off his blade. Faceoffs need improving as he was losing all of them all night long. He needs to approach with a better technique as he positions his upper body incredibly hunched over which I can only assume makes it harder for him to see the puck. That ties into his skating stride, which needs complete retooling in his stride mechanics. He skates with a hunched over forward stride posture. This causes his forward strides to push out more to the side then straight back. He can look like he’s motoring, but needs to generate quick strides to hit his top speed which is an inefficient use and overall wastes more energy. He struggled to angle out his man in the neutral zone due to his poor skating posture. Delic struggles when the game gets going quick as he can’t keep up with the faster skaters. The work ethic and hustle are there. He busts his tail off each shift and was forechecking and pressuring with determination. He’ll lay the body occasionally, dipping his shoulder into his opposition. His skill was shown in his execution on short range passes and finessing over top of opposing sticks. Effective passes leading his teammates into beneficial spaces. He showed good awareness in the defensive zone to not puck watching and stay on top of the open man. Delic has the skill to create plays, he just needs to do it more consistently and part of that will come with improved skating. He’s got top nine upside as a skilled offensive center but comes with heavy risk due to his skating. But there is something there that I like so I have him as a 6th rounder.
December 3, 2021
Kristianstad IK vs Almtuna IS (HockeyAllsvenskan)
33 D Oskar Asplund, Sweden, 5’11”, 172, L, DOB 18.11.2003
Asplund was very strong on the puck, fighting off opponents while having possession and making smart passing plays all night. He is very comfortable with the puck and isn’t stressed whatsoever out there. He keeps his head up at all times and therefore is quick to find an outlet pass when a puck is dumped behind him. Despite not having the greatest acceleration in his skating, he evades pressure super smoothly. Oskar also won the majority of his 1v1 battles involving physical contact. He has great awareness all over the ice and positions himself in the best positions in order to interrupt plays or be available to participate when his team has possession. He plays a simple but yet effective game – he exemplified this by making a quick pass in his own end, finding a new position in the middle of the ice in order to receive it again – then he made a pass out on the wing and crashed the net as the winger had a great chance to score thanks to Asplund had caught the defenders attention. He has a sneaky shot from the blue line, it often finds its way through. They’re also smart, he shoots with intention of rebounds. Defensively he’s well positioned, his gap control is great and he makes his presence known by always having an outstretched stick towards the puck carrier. He hits with intention to win the puck back, there was a situation where he skated alongside with a opponent where Asplund had a huge physical disadvantage, but thanks to his smartness, instead of trying to hit him, he just skated 2 extra strides and cut in front of the opponent and stole the puck. Him eating a lot of minutes didn’t seem to bother him, he kept his calmness and was relied on in big D-Zone starts as well as offensive ones. He also played on one of their power play units and did so with confidence.
December 10th, 2021
HK Nitra vs HK Spisska Nova Ves
7 RD, Simon Nemec, HK Nitra (Slovakia), 6’1, 192, RD, 02-15-2004
Nemec is a skilled right shot defender that possesses some elite offensive talent from the blue line. One of my favorite prospects in the draft I don’t think he gets enough credit for how dynamic he is. He has the ability to change the game in the drop of a dime. He is used on the top pair and was by far the best player as he controlled play and really dictated the offense for his team from the back end. He has a bit of that Brandt Clarke to his game as he almost is a quarterback from the back end. He also plays both power play and penalty kill where he uses his skating to help create or take away lanes. Nemec had two assists in this one to help his team add to the scoreboard. His first assist was on the power play where he walked into a one timer that seemed to beat the goalie clean. Upon further review one of his forwards put a tip on it in front of the net. The way he walked from the far side to the middle before calling for his shot and letting a bomb go was impressive and should translate right away to the NHL. Surprisingly hard slap shot as well as I didn’t have him pegged as someone who can score with ease from distance but he certainly can with the slap shot at least. His second assist was a beautiful play that I think describes Nemec too a tee and really makes me impressed with his IQ. He hit his skating winger at top speed with a stretch pass from his own end with a small bank of the boards. The vision and ability to pull it off were elite and it resulting in a goal just takes the cake. Nemec also plays a strong game without the puck despite not being overly physical. That would be my knock on his game is the ability to play with his body. But for a kid that skates as good as he does he really relies on that to generate speed around the ice. Long lengthy strides are super smooth on his edges allowing him to be agile side to side and bring some versatility to his rushes. When he leads the rush himself it is almost a guaranteed zone entry. I would like to see him attack off the rush even more in transition as he has so much speed built up sometimes it looks like he could just drop a shoulder and burn them wide. Defensively his game is all skating and high IQ plays that find him in the right spot more often than not. Nemec has the talent that could translate into a legit number one in the NHL if his offense translates. Im sure he looks at a player like a Cale Makar to try to mold his offensive instincts after. I project Nemec as a top 5 pick due to his skating and offensive IQ.
January 15, 2022.
Linkoping HC J20 vs Orebro HK J20 (J20 Nationell – Top 10)
21 C Filip Bystedt, Linkoping HC J20 (J20 Nationell), 6’4’’,187, L, DOB 2.4.2004.
With his big body and great physique, Bystedt displays a solid two-way game. Bystedt is a reliable centerman who plays with authority on both ends of the ice. In the defensive zone he is well-positioned and works fine with his defenceman. He has a huge advantage with his physic in the corners as he with smartness can go in with timing and absolute manhandle the attacking player to gain the puck. Can also lock the opposing players stick in a strong way to disarm potential deflections or rebound shots. Bystedt is a very smart player, has a nice poise with the puck, no hasty plays as he sees the ice well and doesn´t panic under pressure. He is not the most explosive player on the skates, but most of the time he is successful carrying the puck and gets past the defending players with his body movements and protection of the puck. His skating technique and strides are extremely powerful and when he gets his speed up and decides to take some laps in the offensive zone there is not much that stops him. His hockey sense is also clearly shown in his style of play in the offensive zone. Seems like he always finds the open space in the right time for a scoring chance and can deliver the puck with hardness and accuracy but also make those smart little passes in the tight areas along the boards. His wrister can be lethal when he gets the extra second to release it. Very valuable player both on the powerplay and on the PK where he on the penalty kill can block shots and show an overall great character. He is a mature and reliable centerman but he could improve his play along the blue lines, sometimes a bit sloppy plays that can lead to counterattacks the other way. Would be nice to see him get off his shot even faster as he possesses a forceful shot. I´m very impressed with Bystedt and his development, a big body who can still skate and handle the puck nicely, with the addition of his maturity and defensive attributes makes me rank him a late 1st or an early 2nd rounder.
January 19, 2022
Northfield Mount Hermon School vs Avon Old Farms School (USHS-Prep)
9 C Brennan Ali, Avon Old Farms School (USHS-Prep), 6’1”, 194, L, DOB 2.09.2004
Hardworking, physical forward. He is not the biggest player on the ice most of the time, but he plays like a wrecking ball. You will not have to tell him twice to finish his check. He enjoys being the F1 on the forecheck and he makes sure the defenders must move it quickly. He has excellent puck retrieval skills and had more takeaways in this game than you could count on your fingers. This aggressive play dominates those at this level, but he will have to be more cognizant of his positioning at the next level. A quick stickhandle could make him fly by and get caught looking silly. However, if he learns to pick his times and continues to get pucks on sticks, he could be a great defender at the next level. Watching him, I couldn’t help but see a bit of Brad Marchand in his opportunistic defensive game. He can cleanly dispossess the opposition and send a clean pass to a streaking winger. He is the go-to guy for his team in every situation. He can take faceoffs, play on the PK, and the PP. You never know what you are going to get out of an Ali shift. One shift he could be displaying his shifty dekes; another, he could level an opponent; and another, he could be skating hard to beat out an icing. Sometimes, this all happens in one shift. His high work ethic on the ice points to a high ceiling. He has a good understanding of where the shooting spots are and is good at sitting down in defensive gaps. However, his game is far from perfect, at this stage. He is selfish with the puck on net drives and can give up the puck if pressured hard. He will need to work on his vision and skill with the puck. Ali has the potential to be a useful two-way player at the next level. He is likely going to find a home in the bottom 6 for an NHL team in the future, as his offensive side seems capped. However, he is a coach’s dream. He competes hard every shift and should see himself taken within the middle rounds of the 2022 NHL entry draft.
January 21, 2022
Youngstown Phantoms vs Muskegon Lumberjacks
9 C Adam Ingram, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), 6’2”, 174, L, DOB 10.14.2003
First viewing of Ingram. Some things stood out that could translate to the next level, while other parts of his game need further development. His skating looked sluggish. Minimal explosiveness in general. Slow turns on his edges. Does not generate great breakaway speed where he can clearly separate himself from the opposition. He can be more useful and effective. His smarts and size do help with his lack of speed in his skating ability, but he needs to add overall speed to really take that next step in progression. Based on this viewing, solely focusing on him, the one thing holding him back as a first round talent is his speed. Whether it is straight line or making cuts, speed is lacking. Has the ability to release the puck with a good amount of power, but his game portrays more towards a playmaker style. Seems like he is the type of player who is going to get the puck to his teammates. Certainly has touch and skill with the puck, nothing brilliant. Beyond his game in the offensive aspect, his defensive game is solid. Responsible center, getting back in the play in support of his defenseman. Pins the opposing forwards to the wall, uses his reach to disrupt the play in front of him, constantly surveying the situation in the D-zone, his defensive game has little errors. Physically he is built, uses his body to battle. His work in the faceoff aspect needs to be worked on. Adding quickness is a place to start. If he can add speed to his game, he will be a first round talent. For now, Ingram fits as a second-round talent with upside.
January 25, 2022
Spokane Chiefs vs Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
14 LD Kevin Korchinski, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL), 6’2″, 185, L, DOB 06.21.2004
A two-way defender who shows excellent puck moving capability. Skates with a long, smooth stride and shows a slightly above average top end speed. Has a wide stance and well-balanced form moving both forward and backward and utilizes his edges well to turn sharply, cut laterally and maneuver quickly. His puck control is top end and he shows great confidence when it is on his stick. He is comfortable carrying the puck out of his zone or moving it deep into the o-zone. His passing is one of his best abilities. He can make seamless tape to tape passes regularly and uses a variety of pass types. His passes are easily controlled, and his teammates have no issue keeping them on their sticks. His shot is quick and fired on net with very little wind up. He shows a quick release and a shot that hits with speed over power. His shots are kept low when coming from the point in hopes of a rebound and when he moves into the o-zone they start to move higher up the net. His IQ is high at both ends. When he has the puck on his stick his IQ really shows through on where and when he can quickly and accurately move the puck and the play. He shows good character and is willing to be a player to stand up for his teammates when something he feels was wrong happened. He also leads on the ice either by example or vocally. He often gives hand signals or voice prompts to set up plays or let linemates know what to do or where to go. When play gets a little physical, he doesn’t seem to shy away. He is willing to take a hit to make a play, step up cleanly on someone as they move along the wall, or if they have their head down through a zone. But this is not an option he employs often. He seemed to use a bump and run tactic most. He bumps a player off the puck, quickly gathers it up and then runs to an open area to quickly move the puck. He quickly closes his gap and keeps an active stick. He forces the play to the outer lanes and if the opponent moves across the middle, he keeps with them and forces that move to happen high in his zone. His quickness on his feet allow him to be ready for rapid changes in direction and this allows him to be effective in his zone. He could speed up his recognition in the transitional game or when under prolonged pressure, but I’m not sure how he can do that if he hasn’t already. I don’t feel this is a super huge knock against him, but it is something he needs to adjust to play at a higher caliber. He has potential to be a top four defender and someone who could aid on the PP with his passing ability.