The top 100 NHL prospect count down continues and as we get closer and closer to the end, many of the players ranked will be found closer to or already in the NHL. Keep in mind the ranking was originally sorted at the start of the season. Up this week, 35-31…
35. Kevin Fiala, Nashville Predators
Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 180
Drafted: Eleventh overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Nashville
After a hectic 2014-15 season which saw Fiala playing on five different teams in three different leagues and international events, this season has seen things settle down. He has made the move to North America full time and there was some thought he could step straight into the NHL. Fiala has only managed five games with the Predators and has his first career goal.
The Preds are not going to rush Fiala and have allowed him to develop in the AHL for the bulk of the season where in 62 games he has 48 points and 70 penalty minutes. Decent rookie numbers but the concern is in his plus-minus which is a minus-16.
Fiala is a dynamic skater. He has great speed and acceleration. He can beat defenders to the outside and get by them and cut to the net. He has great edgework and agility, and a tremendous first step. This gives him the ability to fool defenders with quick cuts and then turning on the jets. Fiala has very good balance and is strong on the puck and this should only improve as he continues to add muscle going forward. – Last Word On Sports
34. Robby Fabbri, St. Louis Blues
Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 170
Injuries limited his games played in his final year in junior to just 30 games and kept him out of most of the World Junior Championship. His limited games didn’t seem to hinder his development, as Fabbri was able to win a roster spot with the Blues and has played full time in the NHL in his rookie pro season.
Fabbri has appeared in 72 games and has played well scoring 37 points with a plus-2. His role with the club will only increase moving forward and his days as a prospect seem to be over, he has arrived.
Not only is Fabbri a shifty and elusive skater able to side step a hit, but he also slows the game down around him for his team while speeding it up for the defenders tasked with stopping him. He is the type of player for whom the puck seems to find whenever he is on the ice. Finally, he is a very responsible and hard-working player when backchecking. He still needs to learn when to avoid corners as, regardless of his size, the danger he courts would put anyone on the shelf more often than is necessary. – Hockey Prospectus
33. Lawson Crouse, Florida Panthers
Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 215
Drafted: Eleventh overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Florida
Crouse is a NHL ready player. Playing for the Kingston Frontenacs, he has dominant size for his peer group, above average skating ability, he is a defensive specialist and has a NHL quality shot. Then consider his leadership attributes, strength, hockey sense and top it all off with a real nasty mean streak and you have to question if there is any circumstance where he is not playing full time in Florida next season.
The only question is, can he eventually play in a top six role, or is his ceiling as an outstanding third line forward?
Crouse is a big physical forward who hits with aplomb and is quick to drop the gloves when called upon or in defence of a teammate. His work along the boards is formidable and he provides a strong net presence. Crouse is strong on his skates with excellent balance and mobility for a big man with breakaway speed. Has decent hands, but is better suited at going through players as opposed to around them.
Uses his size well in the corners and is adept at using one hand on the stick to control the puck while using his free arm to fend off opponents. Crouse has a hard shot which he can release very quickly. He is dangerous shooting off the rush and on one timers. With his size, skating ability and offense he is a sure fire NHL power forward in the mold of Rick Nash — My NHL Trade Rumors
32. Anthony DeAngelo, Tampa Bay Lightning
Drafted: 19th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Tampa
Statistically speaking, DeAngelo is having a very good rookie pro season in the AHL with 42 points in 66 games. His minus-16 is a concern as he continues to develop his defensive game, but the real concern lies off the ice.
Some scouts and General Managers may have avoided drafting DeAngelo as he was suspended several times by his own team in junior. Those troubles seem to have followed him into his pro career as he has scratched from the lineup as a “Coaches decision” on more than one occasion. These infractions may be as simple as sleeping in, or being late for practice which is actually fairly common, then again, where there is smoke…
There is no questioning his skill and hopefully as he develops his defensive skills under Rob Zettler in Syracuse he can also mature and address his other issues.
An excellent skater with good straight ahead speed, he is extremely tough to beat in races for loose pucks. DeAngelo possesses great patience and vision with the puck along with a quick release on a good wrist shot. With his skill set, there is every reason to believe that he will quarterback a power play at the NHL level. – Hockey Prospectus
31. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus Blue Jackets
Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6’0” / 176
Drafted: 89th overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by Columbus
After a breakout final season in junior, where he led the WHL in scoring with 118 points, Bjorkstrand has made the jump to the pro level. In his rookie pro season, he has split the time between the NHL and the AHL, playing the majority with the Lake Erie Monsters where in 47 games, he has 26 points.
Limited to just 12 NHL games, he has four goals and eight points. It has been a season of adjustment for Bjorkstrand for sure and he got off to a slow start, but his future remains bright as his offensive talents and he continues to add strength.
A slender kid, but man can he put up offense. Bjorkstrand has a great release to his shot and was a consistent threat all tourney long. – THN Ryan Kennedy