This is Dmitri Kulikov. He’s a very well regarded young blueliner and should go in the top 10 at the NHL draft this summer. Central Scouting’s Christian Bordeleau said “He’s a great skater; he can carry the puck and shoot the puck well. He’s strong too, he can take big hits and they don’t seem to bother him.”
I love pro sports drafts. If there was a “draft channel” I’d watch it all the time. “Tonight, we’ll have the 1971 Entry Draft in black and white with shabby sound!” I’d be there. I’m not a draft expert of any kind. NHL scouts are really good at what they do, but they won’t tell me their lists and guys like Blue Bullet and speeds will publish their stuff in due time. Mr Bugg writes for a living now so it wouldn’t be fair to steal his stuff.
That’s the backdrop for why I’m posting the early top 10. It’s my list, but it’s really the list math would publish if anyone asked him (I’m certain math is a guy, my wife swears at math like he’s a guy). I’m also stealing some bio info from the Al Gore so we have a reference point.
- C John Tavares: From CSB’s EJ McGuire: “He is probably better than any other player in the Draft from the top of the circle down at being a threat to score. He’s an offensive player who is reliable in his defensive zone and getting better at that, but yet not asked to do that very frequently. He is pure offense and for his first years in the NHL will probably be asked to do just that.” Redline has suggested he lacks that complete player’s skills, so we’re looking at Marcel Dionne/Steve Yzerman.
- D Victor Hedman: He’s a smooth, swift skater and he’s 6.06, 220. A good offensive defender, has playmaking skills. He’s described as being a sound positional defender (for his age) but does lack a Chris Pronger/Scott Stevens mean streak. You could probably build a franchise around him.
- C Evander Kane: Central Scouting’s (and 99′s old winger) Blair MacDonald: “He has power forward qualities from the blue line in. He’s the type of player who doesn’t like being denied access to the net. You can almost see when he’s got the puck he’s going to the net and defying people to stop him. He’ll be a 200-pound forward in the National Hockey League. He plays like he’s 6-2, 6-3, bigger than his size. He’s surprised a lot of people with his strength going to the net.”
- C Matt Duchene: TSN’s Bob McKenzie: “Duchene is a well-built pivot just shy of six feet tall, who has elite level speed and skill. While he is perhaps not quite as prolific offensively as Stamkos, there are a lot of similarities in their game in terms of playing both sides of the puck and using speed on both offense and defence.” Redline moved him ahead of Tavares recently.
- C Braydon Schenn: Again McGuire from CSB: “Brayden is of the power-forward ilk. He has learned a little about the NHL from his older brother Luke Schenn and he knows how to go to the net. He is a threat to score at all times on the ice and dishes the puck very effectively to his linemates in getting the amount of assists that he does. He takes the puck to the net with the kind of authority that a Jonathan Cheechoo does, yet has puck dishing capacities that maybe a Joe Thornton does. Both are tough players, both are tough to move out in front of the net and Brayden fits that ilk perfectly.”
- R Scott Glennie: McGuire one last time: “Scott Glennie was mislabeled earlier in the year as perhaps being only a finisher for often linemate Brayden Schenn. Yet Scott took matters into his own hands with an equal number of goals and assists and contributed greatly this season with a power forward type attitude. Glennie might remind the fan of NHL players with power forward abilities coming off the wall like Jonathan Cheechoo and Jonathan Toews — that kind of offensive ability.”
- R Jordan Schroeder: An undersized skill forward in the tradition of Patrick Kane. I can see Oilers fans saying “NO!” but if you believe teams should draft BPA there’s a real chance this fellow will be in the running if available. One thing you should be aware of is that he shoots the puck–Schroeder is described as having a terrific wrister.
- L Magnus Pjrvi-Svensson: The one non-math pick, I’ve decided his WJ and U-18 WJ numbers (added to all the fuss) must mean something. Elite Prospects: An offensive type of player that skates very well, has fine technical skills, excellent hockey sense and a nose for the net. Pääjärvi is very dangerous one-on-one and also a gifted playmaker, although his sniper instinct is more obvious. Pääjärvi always puts up a lot of points. Needs to improve his defensive game as well as work ethic.
- D Dmitri Kulikov: More from Bordeleau: “What we saw this year is likely what we are going to see from Kulikov in the future; he’s going to play the same way in the NHL. He knows when to join the rush, he plays defense first, but recognizes the holes. He can shoot the puck well on the powerplay and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played in the NHL next year.”
- D Ryan Ellis: CSB’s Bob Boughner: “I’ve only been in the (OHL) three years and other coaches I talk to, they’ve never seen a defenseman have an impact in a junior game like Ryan Ellis. He seems to be in on every play defensively and offensively. If you come away from the game and you look at who was your favorite player, who played the best, his name always seems to come to mind. There are plays where he’s making something out of nothing. And his biggest asset is his shot. He’s got an NHL one-timer, he’s got an NHL slap shot, and that’s a dangerous weapon.”
There are several players who belong in the conversation, including Nazem Kadri, Louis Leblanc and Jared Cowen. The are some concerns a player like Schenn could end up being a 3rd line checker/crasher, but he has some skill too. We’ll see. I like everyone on this list.