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.
October 30, 2021
Maine vs Northeastern (NCAA)
27 C Jack Hughes, Northeastern (NCAA), 6’0”, 165, L, DOB 11.02.2003
Skilled, offensive forward. Playing in a league where he is one of the youngest, Jack makes himself stick out. Has exceptional offensive skills and makes teammates around him better. The most impressive part of his game is his playmaking ability. Has the best backhand pass I have seen in this draft class. Sees the ice well and makes quick decisions with the puck. Operates with great deception, has excellent no look passes and head fakes. His ability to get pucks effectively to dangerous areas on the powerplay will translate well to the next level. Do not let his pass first tendency deceive you, his shot will make you pay. Had a crisp wrist shot fly past the goaltender and ring the crossbar in this game. He should look to use this powerful shot more as he acclimates to the college game. He has great hands and the creativity to deke past defenders and create opportunities for himself and teammates. Jack is not exceptionally fast, but his edgework is second to none. Very good at starts and stops and is very light on his feet. With more physical development and leg strength, he could see his breakaway speed improve. Defensively, he looked lost at times. He was caught puck watching on a couple occasions allowing the opponent to get a high-quality chance from the slot. Showed potential to be a decent defender but he must do a better job of taking away the stick of the attacker, rather than always trying to intercept the pass. Despite being the youngest kid on the ice, he stuck up for himself and teammates. Needs to play more disciplined, as he had a bad stick infraction behind the other team’s net. Overall, he has great character and seems to be a great teammate. He laid out to block a shot to keep the lead in the last few minutes of the game. Jack should look to put on muscle and develop into a more physical presence on the ice. Being one of his first games playing at a high level, Jack logged a ton of minutes and looked like he not only fit in, but will be one of the top players in the NCAA. He projects to be a mid-first round pick in the 2022 NHL draft and should only see himself move up in the rankings as he starts to get more acclimated and score more points in the NCAA. From what I have seen, he will be a top 6 forward in the NHL sooner rather than later.
October 30th, 2021
North Bay vs Barrie (OHL)
11 RC, Liam Arnsby, North Bay (OHL), 5’11, 181, R, DOB 11-20-2003
Liam Arnsby is a gritty two-way center that is a late birthday for the draft class. He clearly has character as he wears the C for the club. You can also tell by the way he works the team follows his lead especially when he turned up the physicality. Arnsby centers the top line and really plays a strong two-way game. He doesn’t create much offense by himself but is an excellent piece that can chip in offensively. He is on the top power play unit in the slot where he picked up some assists in this one feeding Matvei Petrov. Excellent on the top penalty kill unit as well starting most with a face off win in his own end. He threw some huge hits in this one and even when they aren’t big, he finishes most of them. He is a strong skater because of his strength as he packs so much power into each stride. He has a surprisingly quick first step but doesn’t carry top speed with the puck well. That would be an area to watch for improvement as he learns to attack on the rush without dropping speed or if he just feels more comfortable with a dump and chase game plan. Multiple times he stepped into a scrum to protect a teammate in this one mostly the younger guys. Arnsby makes his money in half ice scenarios and playing off the cycle. Below the goal line he is comfortable making contact before looking for a passing lane. He has decent vision and can make some crafty passes showing some flash for an otherwise straight-line player. Defensively he was a hound and really shut down Olausson frustrating him with physicality. I don’t think Arnsby has a high ceiling offensively at the next level as his shot needs work as well. But I do think he makes the league and there is a high chance he has a long career as a depth center that can chip in with some offense while playing a gritty defensive role. Look for Arnsby to see a rise in production gaining chemistry with Petrov and Coe. I have Arnsby as a skilled two-way center with an edge. He projects as a third line center, but could possibility be a sneaky two-way top six center if he translates his offense.
October 29th, 2021
Gatineau vs Halifax (QMJHL)
RW, Jordan Dumais, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL), 5’09, 165, R, DOB 2004-04-15
Dumais had an amazing game, showing why is one of the top prospects from the QMJHL going into the 2022 draft. Was relentless and effective on the forecheck. Aggressive stick work, he creates turnovers in the offensive and neutral zones. He does need to be careful though, as he can take voidable penalties from it. Good defensive abilities, he gets in front of shooting lanes, which could create breakout opportunities for his team. Displayed good defensive instincts, anticipating zone entry plays from the opposition. His quick feet allow for a decent acceleration at best, but he seems to always be in the right spot to get to lose pucks on short distances. His cruising speed isn’t jaw dropping and might be the weakest aspect of his game. His strides aren’t powerful enough to get him separated from opponents. Dumais displayed his strongest assets all game long, shift after shift, which is his playmaking abilities. He has incredible vision and dished extremely accurate passes to his teammates. Almost every highly dangerous opportunities coming from his line started from his stick. He finds open teammates with impressive ease and does it time after time after time. If one of his linemates gets open in the slot or down the wing, you can be sure that Dumais will get the puck to him. Excellent puck distributor. He can turn a play that seemingly isn’t going anywhere to a prime scoring chance with one of his passes. He didn’t only showcased those passing abilities in the offensive zone, but from all over the ice. Doesn’t really have to get involved physically, due to his two linemates assuming that role. However, Dumais doesn’t look like he could struggle in board battles. Dumais is an incredible playmaker that will make you pay if you leave one of his linemates uncovered.
October 29th, 2021
Sarnia Sting vs London Knights (OHL)
89 RW, Ruslan Gazizov, London (OHL), 5’11”, 187, L, DOB 01.21.2004
Gazizov’s OHL debut was a positive one but with clear room to grow in terms of chemistry and timing with his linemates. The lack of chemistry/timing on passes were shown in his no-look attempts or thinking his defensemen was going to pinch from the line and he’d then cover them. Gazizov is a skilled agile forward with great ice vision to recognize what’s available. I wouldn’t classify him as fast but he does a terrific job of changing his speed off the rush to be deceptive. Performs quick mohawk pivots that adds to his deceptive skating. Slows down as he enters the zone while scanning the ice before executing on a pass. Showcased great patience pulling the puck around a sprawling defender and then throwing the puck to the front of the net which ended up off his teammates skate and in for Gazizov’s first OHL point. Quick puck movement. Inside the offensive zone he is hard to contain. Loves to continually move his feet and slide into an open space that makes himself available. He’ll also come in to play close puck support in the corners and quickly reverse pucks to his teammates off the cycle. Smart in his attack on the forecheck with a quick stick to stab at pucks first and play it around his opponent. Showing his quick hands. He has a pesky stick and wacks or looks for a stick lift. Will have to be careful as a couple of time his stick wacks would be slashing penalties in the NHL. He did commit one hooking penalty and a rough hit from behind, both in the first period. Showing his aggressive side. Strong on his skates showing great balance. Absorbs contact like a pro, lets the opposition lean on him while maintaining puck control and decent speed. Executed a perfect strong shoulder check to knock one of the bigger Sting players onto the ice. Gazizov showed he has the skills and ice vision to be a point producer and I expect him to flourish with the Knights. Potential top nine pro upside as a skilled point producer.
October 26, 2021
Örebro HK vs Färjestad BK – J20 Nationell Södra
20 LW Tim Almgren, Örebro HK (J20 Nationell Södra), 5’10”, 152, R, DOB 07.18.2004
Almgren really came out flying in this one. In his first shift, he quickly understood the situation and took advantage of a bad pinch by the opposing team which led to a 3 on 2 and an assist on a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal. In his second shift, he let go of a one-time bullet from the top circle which had the keeper beaten. 2-0 after 4.02 into the game and alot of it thanks to him. He is very light and quick on his feet, flying back and forth on the ice. Retaining speed while turning is not a problem, he does it with ease. Almgren is a great puck carrier, his quick feet and smartness makes it hard to stop him which led to him having several controlled zone-entries. His hands are smooth with the puck, and he keeps control over the puck while being at high speed. He found small, pattern-breaking passes in the offensive zone, which may not seem as much for the average but really made it a mess in Färjestad’s defence. He took a very unfortunate tripping penalty and was then on the ice for Färjestads lone goal. Maybe he should have prevented that goal. He followed his man around the zone and when the opponent reached the blue line, he let him go and backed off, leading to the player getting a lot of ice to skate into and then scoring. That could also be a coaching thing where he’s told to do so in order for another forward to take over.
October 23, 2021
Winnipeg Ice vs Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
5 D Denton Mateychuk, Moose Jaw (WHL), 5’11”, 187, L, DOB 07.12.2004
First viewing. Denton is an incredibly smart two-way defenseman who plays the game with pace and skill. He has a very fluid stride that shows full extension and an explosive first step that gets him away quickly. He uses his edges exceptionally well and is able to move laterally to elude pressure or to apply pressure to the attacking opposition. His puck control shows a calm state of mind and confident hands. He is able to protect the puck with his body and pivot quickly while keeping the puck on his stick, all while searching out the best route or option to move the play forward. His passing ability is fantastic. He is able to make crisp first passes that stick like glue to the stick of his teammates or he can skate out a little way and float a nice saucer pass to a streaking forward. His slap shot is a heavy bomb that tends to find the bottom portion of the net and creates rebounds for the attacking forwards. He does occasionally use his wrist shot, mostly when he joins the rush and attacks the net front himself, and it comes off his stick with intention and power. He sets up the start of the play from his own zone. He watches and analyzes where the best options are or are going to be and starts on his way to get the play moving forward. He will either fire an accurate pass to a teammate and follow the play up, or he will carry the puck himself and make the play at the blueline to get the puck in deep. His vision and smarts really show when he gets the puck and sets up the play starting behind his net. He spots lanes that are nearly impossible to get a puck through and manages to wait until they open up fully and he takes advantage of them. As play transitions the other way, he reads the opposition’s offence and breakouts well and knows exactly when to step up and pressure the opponent. Physically Denton is a solid player. He is able to make or take hits that would often rattle smaller, lighter players. He isn’t afraid to step into a check along the wall and he is very willing to battle aggressively in front of the net. Defensively he is such a smart player. He absolutely suffocates the opposition’s rush by stepping up at the most opportune times and applying incredible pressure to the attacker. This along with his active stick and proper positioning often result in a takeaway and a turnover of possession in his favor. He does this time after time and all the way through the neutral zone and into the defensive zone.
Denton shows elite defensive zone IQ and processes the game and a high speed. He constantly pressures opposition and makes it all but impossible to get around him cleanly with the puck. Denton should be considered a top prospect. He would slot in well as a top four defenseman at the pro level.
October 16, 2021
Ilves vs Assat (Liiga)
33 LW, Jani Nyman, Ilves (Liiga), 6’3”, 212, L, DOB 07. 30. 2004
This was Nyman’s first time suiting up for the big club in the Liiga. Nyman has a unique skill set; however, he has trouble putting it all together. Jani has an NHL ready body, can scoot for his size, and is relentless on the forecheck. It may have been first game jitters but Jani had a tough time processing the game; there were countless times where he never picked his head up and threw the puck away to the opposing team. Nyman is relentless on the forecheck but once he gets to the man with the puck he never used his body to battle, he often took one swipe at the puck and turned off the opposing player. Nyman did pick up an impressive assist in his first Liiga game. The play started in his zone where he quickly realized they had an odd man advantage, he charged through the neutral zone and got to the backside post while being covered in defenders, he was able to get his shot off and create a big rebound for his teammate. Jani Nyman is an intriguing prospect and he has the ability to become a riser this draft season, I look forward to viewing more of his games and seeing if he can put all his skills together to become a dominant player.
October 8, 2021
Sioux Falls Stampede vs Lincoln Stars (USHL)
4 D Michael Mastrodomenico, Lincoln Stars USHL, 6’2”, 187, R, DOB 04.19.2004
On top of all situations. Steady strides and full of composure on his skates. Strong poise and control of tempo in his game. Not an easy player to rattle. Smooth strides brought on by solid pushes and footwork, lead to 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. Willing to shoot the puck from just about anywhere. Shows he has a tricky mind looking to catch goalies off their angles with out of the norm shots. Waiting for the screen to be set up is an area he could improve in his shooting selection. Insane accuracy on long stretch passes. Generates many rushes dishing the puck from his end of the ice. He can catch his forwards on the wall or in the middle of the ice. There is a high chance he will connect with a crisp pass on the tape. Keeps the flow and pace of the play moving. Anticipates when and where he should move the puck, as well as how. He can evaluate and either skate the puck, or pass it off. Handles pressure on the wall by pinning his man to the glass. Not many can escape his pressure, tie ups on the wall, and defensive awareness. Full of work ethic. Consistent style shift after shift. Wise defender on the boards and in front of the net. Takes away his man as a threat with the battle on the boards, as well as clears the front of the net for his goaltender. Engages with his body for gain of the puck. Mastrodomenico can contribute creating rushes and outbursts for his forwards, as well as play responsible defense for his linemates and goalie. This 2022 NHL Entry Draft eligible prospect looks to be a well-rounded defenseman who could be a hidden gem.