The Top 100 prospects in hockey countdown is back this week with a look at the player ranked 30-26 with some players who have already made their NHL debuts.
30. Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 175
Drafted: 24th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Philadelphia.
One of the more intriguing prospects in the 2015 NHL draft, Konecny may lack size, but he is a fierce competitor, a strong skater, plays an aggressive game and possesses both leadership qualities and explosive offensive skills.
Some scouts were concerned with his aggressive game and slight frame feeling the shoulder injury he suffered may become an ongoing concern. The Flyers traded up with Toronto to acquire Konecny, who this season posted an impressive 45 points in 29 games as the Ottawa 67’s Captain and was named to Team Canada for the World Juniors.
At the WJC, he played a limited role as an energy player but was one of the more noticeable players, posting two points in five games. After a trade to the Sarnia Sting, he improved his offensive game by posting 56 points in 31 games with Sarnia. The Sting were poised for a playoff run but after two games, Konecny suffered an upper body injury (shoulder again) and was done for the series and the Sting fell in the first round.
Konecny likely has one more year in the OHL before he turns pro, and should dominate there with a prominent role at the WJC. Konecny has the ability to play in the Flyers top six in the near future if he can stay healthy.
A talented scoring forward that can play either as a center or on the wing; plays with the bite and intensity of a guy who is willing to do anything to win a game. Possesses dynamic skating ability that allows him to accelerate rapidly with each step, incredible hockey sense, electrifying puckhandling skills, and a lightning release on his shot; when you put this skillset together with hard-nosed determination, proactiveness in all three zones, and a physical willingness to grind and persevere, you get a game-changer who can be extremely difficult to play against. – Elite Prospects
29. Nick Ritchie, Anaheim Ducks
Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 232
Drafted: Tenth overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Anaheim
Ritchie played out his first year as a pro and split his time between the AHL and the NHL posting four points in his 33 NHL games played and 30 points in 38 games with the San Diego Gulls. His pro-ready size, skating, and shot have allowed for a smooth transition into the AHL where he hasn’t looked out of place. He has been less effective in the NHL, but with some more development and patience that will come. As his year progressed he became more effective and he projects to be a formidable NHL power forward in the very near future.
Ritchie is a power forward prospect who finishes his checks, and plays a very straight line game, taking the puck right to the front of the net and not caring if he has to go through a defenceman to do it. He loves to stand in front of the net and has the quick, soft hands necessary to score on rebounds and deflections. Ritchie might have one of the best wrist shots in junior hockey. It is tremendously powerful, and features a very good release. It can be in the back of the net before the goaltender even knows that he’s shot the puck. That wrist shot is already NHL ready. He is powerful in board battles, overpowering defencemen and winning pucks. While plenty of teenagers need to add muscle to their frames before going pro, Ritchie is already built like a truck. On top of that he’s still got room to get even bigger and stronger. – Last Word On Sports
28. Pavel Zacha, New Jersey Devils
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 209
Drafted: Sixth overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft by New Jersey.
Zacha has had a big post-draft season. He made a strong impression in New Jersey at rookie camps and preseason but was returned to the OHL for his second season with the Sarnia Sting. He had a big season scoring 28 goals and 64 points in 51 games.
Zacha also represented his country at the WJC playing in four games for Czech scoring three points. The Sarnia Sting were eliminated after seven games despite Zacha scoring six goals and 13 points. The early exit from the OHL has allowed Zacha to make his NHL debut; playing in his first game he produced two assists.
With the Devils season over, he was assigned to the AHL affiliate in Albany where in the final three regular season games he produced three points and has another three in four AHL post season games. Zacha should start full time in the NHL next season as a top six forward on the Devils.
Pavel Zacha is an offensively dynamic center with the size, speed, and skill to make a significant impact on the game. He can play physical, but is at his best when using his high-end offensive abilities, such as his shot, stickhandling, and footspeed, to generate numbers in the opposition’s end of the ice. All-in-all, Zacha is a lethal weapon that can be depended upon to create, and finish, dangerous scoring chances whenever he is on the ice. – Elite Prospects
27. Christian Dvorak, Arizona Coyotes
Height/Weight: 6’0” / 187
Drafted: 58th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Arizona
Dvorak was injured in his draft year and as a result fell in draft rankings significantly. The Coyotes may have struck gold with the 58th overall pick that is considered to be a two-way center. He plays a responsible defensive game, but his offense cannot be overlooked.
Dvorak led the OHL in goal scoring with 52 playing on a dominant line with Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk. The trio is currently leading the London Knights into the finals and Dvorak has ten goals and 26 points in 14 games to date. It won’t be long before Dvorak is reunited with his former London line mate Max Domi in Arizona.
He’s a heady, responsible forward with high-level offensive ability. Playing on a stacked Knights team during his OHL career has certainly helped his numbers, but there is no reason to believe he cannot be a productive player at the NHL level. He has the skating ability and mindset to play a full 200 foot game, with the determination to get into critical scoring areas in the offensive zone. – Kevin LeBlanc, Dobber Hockey
26. Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 199
Drafted: 17th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Philadelphia
After his breakout season in his draft year, Sanheim slightly improved on his offensive totals going from 65 to 68 point totals but playing 15 fewer games. Sanheim was a key player for Canada at the WJC as well but with only one assist in five games his offensive output was disappointing. His WHL postseason ended with the Calgary Hitmen after five games where he scored six points, and has since been assigned to the Flyers AHL affiliate the Lehigh Valley Phantoms where he played four games producing a goal and two assists.
With the depth the Flyers boast in defensive prospects with Ivan Provorov, Shane Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Phillippe Myers, it is very likely Sanheim will see more development time before he joins the NHL on a regular basis.
Sanheim is an elite skater compared to his immediate contemporaries. He’s extremely fluid, light on his feet, moves laterally exceptionally well and always seems to be on his toes. He has multiple gears to match his opponents and never seems out of position or flat-footed…Sanheim possesses a firm, low slapshot and is able to get it off very quickly.
He keeps his head up when he shoots and is able to find the net with ease. His shots aren’t particularly dangerous and he doesn’t pick corners, but he finds the net or sticks for deflections…Sanheim is very productive with the puck on his stick. He rushes with confidence and consistently enters the zone cleanly resulting in long periods of sustained pressure.
When he enters the zone he’s capable of slowing the pace right down and smartly distributes the puck. Has a knack for finding open forwards who generate scoring chances. He’s certainly more of a playmaking defensemen capable of QBing a power play…Plays an intelligent and reliable defensive game. He plays right to the opposition, meets them at the blue line but doesn’t overcommit. He defends blade to blade and never seems to be more than a stick-length away from his opponent. He doesn’t bite and is excellent at stifling forwards, forcing them to the outside or cause turnovers. He has a knack for being in passing and shooting lanes. – Hockey Prospectus