Desjardins’ NHLE suggests the best pure goal scorer in this year’s entry draft might be Vladimir Tarasenko. When running all of Bob McKenzie’s top 30 skaters through the NHL, Tarasenko’s goal total (22) trumps all others.
If this were a straight up draft, with no politics, Tarasenko would be in the discussion for #1 overall. Bob McKenzie calls him “Vladimir Krutov in really, really good shape” and his performances in international competition as well as solid numbers in the professional KHL makes him a gem on draft day. Here are Bob McKenzie’s top 30 skaters (broken down by F and D) and their Desjardins numbers. These are in 82gp form and we let air out of their tires to make them equivalent to NHL projections. Needless to say the KHL projects as a tougher league than the OHL. One thing is certain: the “Russian factor” is costing Tarasenko several spots in the entry draft.
- Taylor Hall 17-29-46 (BM #1)
- Tyler Seguin 19-22-41 (BM #2)
- Michael Granlund 13-28-41 (BM #13)
- Vladimir Tarasenko 21-18-39 (BM #16)
- Jeff Skinner 19-16-35 (BM #10)
- Jaden Schwartz 12-19-31 (BM #29)
- Tyler Toffoli 14-16-30 (BM #27)
- Brett Connolly 15-14-29 (BM #8)
- Austin Watson 10-16-26 (BM #14)
- Alex Burmistrov 9-17-26 (BM #12)
- Quinton Howden 11-14-25 (BM #26)
- Beau Bennett 8-17-25 (BM #18)
- Ryan Johansen 9-15-24 (BM #6)
- Nino Niederreiter 14-9-23 (BM #7)
- Emerson Etem 13-9-22 (BM #17)
- Nick Bjugstadt 11-11-22 (BM #19)
- John McFarland 8-11-19 (BM #28)
- Charlie Coyle 6-12-18 (BM #32)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov 4-14-18 (BM #24)
- Tyler Pitlick 9-8-17 (BM #25)
- Riley Sheahan 5-10-15 (BM #21)
A couple of points: This is purely an offensive measurement with no consideration for defensive college teams (Sheahan at Notre Dame) or lack of playing time in the KHL (Kuznetsov in Chelyabinsk). Interesting to note the extreme bargains as they appear here, led by Granlund, Tarasenko and Schwartz. Hall has clearance on Seguin, who is right in the same area as Stamkos at the same age (23-19-42 run through Desjardins). They’re both outstanding prospects, as are Granlund and Tarasenko.
Defense per 82gp
- Cam Fowler 4-21-25 (BM #5)
- Brandon Gormley 4-14-18 (BM #4)
- Erik Gudbranson 1-13-14 (BM #3)
- Justin Faulk 9-4-13 (BM #30)
- Mark Pysyk 4-8-12 (BM #20)
- Derek Forbort 3-9-12 (BM #11)
- Dylan McIlrath 3-6-9 (BM #15)
- Jonathan Merrill 1-8-9 (BM #22)
- Jarred Tinordi 4-4-8 (BM #23)
There’s a lot more to playing defense than posting boxcars, but Fowler looks like the only real puck mover and Gormley performs well (as he does in all areas) by this metric. Gudbranson doesn’t project as a helpful defenseman offensively, Justin Faulk is an interesting prospect. Fowler is about where Dmitri Kulikov (5-20-25) was in his draft year, and both trail Drew Doughty (6-23-29) but are in the same conversation. Predicting any of this season’s defenders to post Doughty-like progression is beyond the pale.
I don’t think we should get too carried away by these things, but if you’re looking for the next David Perron names like Granlund, Tarasenko, Schwartz and Toffoli are solid candidates.