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.
August, 25, 2021
Shawinigan vs Victoriaville (QMJHL)
#3 D Pier-Olivier Roy, Victoriaville (QMJHL) 5’9″, 157 lbs, 05/03/2004
P-O Roy is a mobile defender who gets pucks out of his zone quickly and promotes offense. Though undersized for a D in this league, he’s a very polished player and simply effective in all that he does. The best way to describe his breakouts is “first man back to retrieve the puck, last man to cross the blue line, out of the zone” but all this happens very methodically and efficiently. He can either pass the puck up ice or use his speed towards his own blue line. Offensively, he runs a power play extremely well and uses his elite vision to act as the perfect distributor. His passes are precise and on the tape. His wrist shot from the blueline is ok, but off target in this game. On several occasions, he showed great awareness to jump into open space for a chance. Then, he retreated right back to his position on D. He may struggle to create more time and space for himself as the season advances. Still, his stickwork and instincts in the defensive zone are great. Here, he saved a goal on the line, with his stick, to preserve a 2-1 lead. As a PK option, he got into lanes to block. I was even impressed by his willingness to stick up for his teammates and to defend his goalie after the whistle. He got into a shoving match with a much bigger foe from the Cataractes but showed no signs of backing down at all. As a whole, he’s a very solid, trustworthy, two-way defenseman who can be deployed in a myriad of situations. He has the hands and speed to go end to end if he has to, but likely won’t do it recklessly. As the game progressed he seemed to take more chances but his team was safely in the lead. Trusted with an A, it may be a long season for the defending Champions but P-O Roy will certainly be counted upon, racking up plenty of secondary assists along the way.
September 6, 2021
Barrie vs Owen Sound (OHL)
#19 RC, Hunter Haight, Barrie (OHL), 5’10, 167, RC, 04-04-2004
Hunter Haight is a skilled right shot center that plays the game with a high sense of IQ mixed with speed. He was centering the top line in this game and was given plenty of opportunity to succeed. He was jumping right from the start of the game and showed he wants to be a difference maker. He was struggling to get his shot off and started to jam the net to create traffic instead. He has a straight up stance when he is skating but creates a lot of speed with a quick first step and solid edge work. As he gets stronger his skating will be a huge asset and reason he will dominate. He was a bit hesitant jumping the lanes as I have seen him play a lot more direct game before. He found himself stuck on the outside creating instead of dashing through the middle. Haight does manage space well with the puck and can buy himself time with his poise and puck protection. His vision from the outside is superb and he finds some tight lanes for passes you didn’t think were there. He was running the half wall on the top power play unit where they seem to be using him as a shooting option. If he can work on his shot and begin to score from the outside he has the potential to light this league up this season. Hunter is a high IQ player that I think will be wearing a C down the road because he leads by example. Haight plays the game from the defensive zone out and isn’t afraid to commit to blocking shots for his team. I love his awareness on the ice as he always has a man on the back check. Hunter was also used on the penalty kill where he really uses his anticipation and quick stick to his advantage. The way he was batting pucks out of the air to disrupt play became a problem for the Attack break out. I would like to see him finish his hits as he gets in on the forecheck so quick he could create a lot of problems by taking the body. I have Haight as a first rounder in the upcoming NHL draft as a top 6 center that can produce and play a sound two way game. His skating and IQ will really set him apart at the next level.
September 12, 2021
Krasnaya vs Kapitan (MHL)
#98 D Vladimir Grudinin, Krasnaya Armiya (MHL), 5’9”, 150, L, DOB 12.09.2003
First Viewing. An elusive skating offensive defenseman who loves to jump up in the rush. A quick skater that is full confidence carrying the puck up the ice out of his own zone. Creates offensive chances with his fast skating and puck handling skills. Fluid skater with excellent edge work. Has some Samuel Girard flare to his game in the skating category, especially walking the offensive blue line with the puck. For his size he was surprisingly strong along the boards and able to win puck battles. Makes quick and smart little chip passes in the defensive zone. Has an active stick on defense and surprises players with a quick poke check move. Solid passing ability, makes smart decisions with the puck on his stick. His shot is nothing special, but he is able to get it through traffic on the power play. Has an excellent breakout game with his high hockey IQ, got an assist this game with a heads up pass out of his own zone. His game is more offensive minded then defensive, even when killing penalties and he needs to improve on when he decides to take chances. A couple times this game he was over aggressive pinching in the offensive zone and it finally caught up to him. He pinched when he shouldn’t have and it led to a goal for the opposing team, as it created a three on two rush the other way. His defensive game is nothing overly spectacular, more average, but he can still hold his own in that department. He was notably the best defenseman on the ice this game. Overall I like his game and think he has mid second round talent. He gives off some serious Samuel Girard and Victor Mete vibes. He won’t score a ton of goals in the NHL but he can be an effective middle pairing defenseman that can create offense and quarterback a second power play unit.
September 15th, 2021
JYP vs TPS (Liiga)
#92 C/RW, Brad Lambert, JYP, 6’0”, 179, R, DOB 12.19.2003
My first viewing of Lambert on the season wasn’t amazing. Some of this is to fault JYP’s defenders and rarely making a pass to their centerman open in middle ice to start the transition. Lambert took low routes giving them an option and with his stick on the ice always ready. Yes, maybe he could’ve made himself a better option on occasions by taking a different route, but the lack of having the puck hurt his game and made him ineffective in this one. His game revolves around his elite transitional skating ability. Wasn’t until late in the third did he get to get more chances to build up speed and steam through the neutral zone. He had three controlled zone exits and one controlled entry. Carries the puck while keeping his head up and utilizing his wingers to dish off lateral passes while driving the center lane. When given the puck, he was able to distribute it accurately. On multiple neutral zone rushes was he able to push back the defense. His acceleration through crossovers is McDavid esque. Unreal explosiveness with the puck. Won’t come across a better 2022 draft prospect that blend speed and skill together. Hands are soft and able to execute skilled passes at top speed, but not a lot of chances to be shown. While on the ice, JYP only established four shot attempts and had eleven shot attempts against. A negative seven corsi. He’ll need to find more ways to get the puck and make more happen inside the offensive zone to continue being seen as the second overall candidate. Average night on the draws. Most of his losses coming inside the offensive zone. Supports his defenders well away from the puck. Stayed low and understood where to position himself. Looked more devoted to helping out his defense then I’ve seen in previous viewings. Still needs to get stronger as he was easily pushed and sealed off on the boards. You saw glimpses of the damage he can do in transition as a puck carrier and ability to play in between checks, but was wildly ineffective for majority of the game and shows that when he doesn’t have the puck, the impact he has on the game diminishes.
September 17th, 2021
HC Krasnaya Armiya vs SKA 1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
#4 LW, Alexander Legkov, HC Krasnaya Armiya (MHL), 6’0”, 168, L, DOB 3.15.2004
Legkov is a speedy, dynamic scoring winger with a high level understanding of how to play in transition. He takes excellent routes up the ice, with and without the puck, creating holes in the defense and space to take advantage of. Legkov’s skating ability is great. He can accelerate to his top speed within only a few strides, and has enough power in his stride to burn nearly any defender he comes up against. He’s also a very refined puck handler, and loves to use quick, shifty inside-out moves to evade checkers. When Legkov can’t pull off a move, he’s got the ability to simply chip the puck around the defender and blaze past them. He’s got very solid offensive instincts, and attacks the soft areas on the ice, but I’m not sure how he would produce playing with less skilled linemates. He seems like a complementary player who requires a playmaker on his line, but he contributes well nonetheless.
September 22nd, 2021
Vancouver Giants vs Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
#27 LD Mats Lindgren (Kamloops) 6’0, 176, L, DOB 08.26.2004
Lindgren is as cool as a cucumber, so serene and collected through the entirety of the contest. It’s also nice to see some added size over the offseason, definitely gained an inch or two and put on a few pounds, all while maintaining his sleek skating abilities. Lindgren’s calm approach makes him so deceptive and dangerous with the puck. Tag together his skating and tremendous vision and you got a recipe for trouble on the breakout and in the offensive third. He times everything to perfection when it comes to dishing a pass to exit the zone or picking an opponent’s pocket as they wander over his blueline. He’s always got his head up, scanning for options while having no troubles controlling the puck… it’s almost like he’s got a neck brace keeping him from looking down, he’s got that 360* vision like an Owl. Lindgren was such a safe option in each situation, I wouldn’t call him a lockdown guy by any means, but he holds his own in his own quarters much better as the years have ticked by, remaining positionally sound. Has a low tendency to shoot, but will never force a shot on net if he knows it won’t make it there. He’s got a lighter release and doesn’t often opt for the slapper, but when given time to operate, he can laser home an accurate wrister, as he scored a lovely goal with 1.5 secs left on the clock to bring his team even before the end of the frame. And once again, that poise, to pull off a play like that and remain composed throughout the whole game, even after being down 0-4 (in the preseason I remind you)… stuff that makes you excited to see what’s next in store for the extremely mobile and quick thinking Lindgren. Projection late 1st – Mid 2nd round prospect.
September 24, 2021
Tri-City Storm vs Madison Capitols (USHL)
#22 D Vinny Borgesi, Tri-City Storm USHL, 5’8”, 165, R, DOB 03.02.2004
The small sized defenseman is packaged with offensive instincts, skills, mindset, and focus. Sub 6’0”, he is the modern day skilled defenseman who does not play much with his body, but rather skating and stick skills. Solid footwork and movement. Transitions well up the ice. He is an option to choose when the ice opens up, for example the 3 v 3 overtime. Give him the green light to use his skating to create. Loose on his skates. Combines calmness and an upbeat influence to the game. Handles the puck with ease. Crisp, on target passes create breakouts and rushes driving through the heart of the neutral zone. Focused on keeping the puck in front of him, moving play down the ice. Gives his all in transition. Pivots and angles can be choppy from time to time. Improvements with both will help improve his skating and ability to control situations of threat. His mindset is wired more towards the offense part of the game. Reads and understands how to create and attack weaknesses. Solid work ethic, showing compete in battles, jumping up along the wall, and communicating with his defensive partner. Fine body position. Shys away from the contact game. Does not need to lay out bone crushing hits, but he should let his man know he is there with some body contact. Uses his stick skills to his advantage, cutting off passing lanes, poking pucks, picking the puck out of skates, and nifty hands to perform a stick check. His draft is nearing, and the checklist has some empty boxes of areas he must improve upon over the season. Shot selection, engaging with contact, and size will be the biggest areas of focus for this 2022 NHL Entry Draft eligible defenseman.