The NHL hockey draft takes center stage on June 23-24 with some of the most talented players in the world looking to showcase their talents.
Overview: The NHL has scrutinized players from around the globe to fill the wants and needs of each organization. Some of the top prospects are below in no particular order.
C-Patrick Nolan—Patrick is considered a potential first pick in the draft despite assorted injuries. Nolan can score, defend and skate almost effortlessly while being a physical presence. Experts say the injuries are a thing of the past and Nolan's ability to do everything well can’t be over stated.
D-Juuso Valimaki—Valimaki is not the offensive force that many defensemen are today but he is strong at 200 pounds and always calm even when under pressure. Valimaki's passing is on target, he makes good decisions and isn’t afraid to block shots.
G-Jake Oettinger—Oettinger possesses great size at 6-4, 205 pounds and was one of the best netminders in college with a combination of quickness and solid technique that many say make him the top goalie in the draft.
C-Klim Kostin—Kostin has been ranked as the top European skater with size and skills galore. Kostin can skate and score and has been compared to Evgeny Malkin but he has been hurt and inconsistent and sometimes doesn’t go 100% for lack of a better word.
C-Casey Mittelstadt—Mittelstadt handles and protects the puck well and has been a proven scorer regardless of the level of talent he has faced. Mittelstadt is regarded as an impact player at the next level.
G-Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen—Luukkonen has tremendous length for a goalie as he stands at 6-6 which allows him to cover each side of the goal while generally being a space eater in the nets. Many scouts have voiced concerns about Luukonen’s mechanics and say he might need time to refine his game.
D-Filip Westerlund—Westerlund is a hard working, quick and can pass the puck. Westerlund positions himself well although his offense and size/strength is a concern.
C-Nico Hischier—Hischier is one of the top skaters in the draft and can go 0-60 in an instant. Hischier is a scoring machine that can separate from defenders while also excelling on defense.
D-Miro Heiskanen—called a complete defensemen with his ability to skate, score and defend with great vision and mistake free play. Regarded as one of the top blueliners in the draft.
C-Lias Andersson—Andersson is a two way player that avoids mistakes, plays passing lanes well and is not afraid to block shots. Andersson gives a full effort when on the ice, is fast and can create his own offense.
D-Cale Makar—Makar can skate and handle the puck with the ability to create offense and or pass accurately. Defensively, Makar is able to ‘get in the way’ of opponents but some question whether his accomplishments were built on lesser competition.
LW/RW-Kristian Vesalainen—At 6-3, 210 pounds, Vesalainen is difficult to move in front of the net and uses his strength to win battles on the boards. Vesalainen also displays speed and quickness that combines with his physical attributes to create space and scoring opportunities.
C-Michael Rasmussen—Rasmussen sticks out with his 6-6, 220+ pound frame and his natural scoring ability. Rasmussen is strong on the boards and takes up a lot of space in front of the net but needs some polish.
C-Elias Pettersson—Pettersson is only 160 pounds and needs to bulk up but he can score and pass and is more then adequate at the defensive end.
D-Urho Vaakanainen—Vaakanainen does not fit the mold as a two way defensemen but he has skating ability, blocks pucks and disrupts attacking forwards and is a skilled passer.
C-Gabriel Vilardi—Vilardi sees the ice well and is able to deliver an on target pass to team mates while making sure they in turn have an opportunity to make a play. Vilardi has the strength to protect the puck and create his own shot.
D-Timothy Lljegren—skates like a forward and is very offensive minded for a defensemen. Can be caught out of position but he is young and needs plenty of grooming which he will get.
D-Erik Brannstrom—Brannstrom is a fast, smooth skater that can move quickly with or without the puck much like the qualities teams want in a forward. Brannstrom can score with an on target wrist shot and likes to use his stick to attack the puck or steal it.