In this year’s NHL Draft, there are arguably 40-plus players who could be considered first-round talents. Unfortunately for some of these players, the first round only has 30 slots, which means it’s inevitable that we’ll see some serious steals in the second round this June.
Here are five draft-eligible players who may fit the bill.
Adam Fox — Defenseman
At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Fox is likely smaller than many teams want their defensemen to be. That being said, he was an important player for the NTDP this season. He’s also a right-shot, something prized in defensemen period, but especially in mobile defensemen like Fox.
He needs to work on the defensive side of his game, but he’s patient and he’s got good vision. His puck skills are top-notch, and though he isn’t an elite skater, he can twist and turn and evade opponents in order to protect the puck or make a play.
Cam Dineen — Defenseman
Dineen finished top 2 in OHL scoring by defensemen this season—as a rookie—with 59 points. Only five other players have achieved that in their draft seasons. While there are areas of his game to sharpen, Dineen’s raw skill projects him as a future puck-moving defenseman and power play quarterback.
He’s got a heavy shot, and he’s good at using it. He’s a great skater. His hands are excellent. But Dineen’s biggest asset is his mind. Corey Pronman of ESPN called Dineen “one of the smartest players in the draft”. Defensemen who think the game well, and creatively, aren’t common. Expect Dineen to be gone by the middle of the second round.
Jordan Kyrou — Right Wing
While Kyrou’s season with the Sarnia Sting was a bit of a wild ride—in many games he looked elite, and in many others he couldn’t be found on the ice—his skill and potential is still there. His puck-handling is top-notch. Kyrou’s speed and acceleration make his skating high-end, and he’s able to use it to elude opposing defenders.
He could stand to work on his physical play, and he definitely needs to improve in his own end. That being said, if a team likes his skill enough to consider him worth the risk and work on developing those things, they may very well reap the rewards.
Victor Mete — Defenseman
Olli Juolevi isn’t the only standout defensive prospect on the London Knights. Victor Mete has more than carried his weight this season, finding his place to shine on what is arguably major-junior hockey’s best team. His defensive game is solid, but he’s also good on the rush. His skating is a huge asset, propelling him up the ice to join the play, and if his puckhandling isn’t elite, it’s good enough.
Mete’s instincts, vision and skating allow him to be aware of opportunities and make plays that render most concerns about his size irrelevant. With many scouts talking recently about how he’s been underrated this season, don’t expect to see him hang around too long after the first round.
Vitaly Abramov—Right Wing
While Abramov was listed in Today’s Slapshot’s most recent mock draft, he’s both from the QMJHL and a smaller player, at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds. Both of those factors can cause a player to drop significantly, and if Abramov falls victim to that drop, a team could walk away with an incredibly skilled player thanks to their second-round pick.
His puckhandling skills are consistently above average, and the way that he uses them can cause opposing defenders to have nightmares long after a game. He’s speedy, tenacious, and works hard both in his own end and his opponent’s.