The countdown continues of the top NHL prospects. The rankings get more difficult each week as the cream begins to rise to the top…
55. Mike Matheson, Florida Panthers
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 192
Drafted: 23rd overall in the first round of the 2012 draft by Florida
After three successful years with Boston College, Matheson has foregone his senior year and turned pro. Matheson began the year in the AHL with Portland and made a smooth transition, scoring five goals and 14 points in 44 games with a plus-14 rating.
Matheson was recalled by Florida earlier in February and has played in his first two NHL games. Matheson is more of a two-way defender than an offensive player and is an excellent skater. With Aaron Ekblad and Alex Gudbranson already with Florida, and Ian McCoshen following Matheson from the NCAA ranks the Panthers blueline has a bright future.
Matheson is a top-flight offensive defenseman prospect. He has improved his defensive positioning since early in his college career but is still a work in progress in his own zone. He needs to improve his physical play and focus less on the puck as opponents attack. When he moves out of his zone Matheson shines. He has dazzling speed and is a skilled puckhandler who adds tremendous pressure up ice with his skating and his shot.” Hockeys Future
54. Denis Guryanov, Dallas Stars
Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 201
Drafted: 12th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Dallas
Was Guryanov and underrated prospect heading into the draft? He was widely ranked as a mid to late first round pick but was picked 12th overall. Some scouts believed he belonged in top five rankings close to players like Mitch Marner and Dylan Strome. In his post draft year he has underwhelming stats playing 47 games in the KHL scoring four goals and only five points and was a surprising cut for the Russian World Junior team.
He had been limited to fourth line minutes in the KHL and has since been demoted to the MHL where he has six points in seven games. Keep in mind he is still only 18 years old and playing professional hockey against men in a very competitive league. He already has a pro-size body and has shown his elite skill level. While his stock may have slipped a little with this year’s performance, he is still an elite prospect with a tremendous upside.
A highly skilled forward who intimidates with his speed and proficient puckhandling ability, Denis Guryanov may have one of the highest ceilings as a forward prospect for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Very strong on his skates and uses his size to protect the puck well. Drives the net hard and knows where he will shoot before he is even in a position to do so. Possesses a heavy and accurate release on his shot, which he likes to get off near the faceoff dots; if he can’t shoot from there, he will either dangle or bull his way through to the blue paint. While he is proactive and aware defensively, he still needs to work on consistency in his own end. All-in-all, a dynamic offensive threat that has room to grow defensively – elite prospects
53. Thomas Chabot, Ottawa Senators
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 190
Drafted: 18th overall by Ottawa in the first round of the 2015 draft.
Chabot is improving on his breakout season in his draft year with a monster year; he has 38 points in 40 games and was a top pairing defenceman for Team Canada at the World Juniors. During the Jonathan Drouin trade rumors Chabot’s name was mentioned as a player of interest by Tampa, but Ottawa reportedly said trading Chabot was a non-starter.
A strong passer who delivers pucks with good timing and accuracy…has the ability to read the play and pick-and-choose his spots…has a powerful stride that generates power but could improve the overall quickness in his feet…willing to join the offensive attack…handles the puck well…not a big point shot but gets it on net consistently…reads the play well in his own zone and defensively he has the size and reach to close off lanes…good transition defender that moves the puck up ice. – Future Considerations
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 179
Drafted: 83rd overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by Pittsburgh
Murray had a remarkable breakout season last year in his rookie AHL season posting a goals against average of 1.58 and a 0.933 save percentage. He is following that up with another stellar season with a 2.1 GAA in 31 AHL games and made his NHL debut this year as well.
In his first five NHL games, Murray owns a 5-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA. With Marc-Andre Fleury as the established starting goalie in Pittsburgh, Murray will continue to see starts in the AHL and develop but he will be a starting goalie in the NHL in the very near future.
Murray is an athletic goalie who has good lateral movements. He uses his size to cut down shooting angles and deflect rebounds into the corners. He sees the puck very well through screens and has the agility to make second and third saves. To become a potentially elite goalie, he could work to become a better puck handler. Murray definitely has the potential to be a starting goalie in the NHL. – Devin Slawson, THW
51. Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders
Height/Weight: 6’0″ / 193
Drafted: 15th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Islanders
The Islanders have demonstrated patience and restraint with Pulock’s development. His game in both junior and at the AHL level has suggested he could’ve stepped into a NHL roster even as early as last year, though a groin injury at training camp last year made the decision to not start him in the NHL an easy one.
Pulock began this season in the AHL again, and after 24 points in 51 games with Bridgeport, Pulock was recalled by the Islanders. He made his NHL debut and now has three games under his belt and is still looking for his first career point. Pulock may not finish the year in the NHL, but expect him to make the jump full time next season.
“He had a great season last year as a 20-year-old,” Snow said. “We were very fortunate in regards to his birth date that he was able to play in the AHL. He had a little bit of a speed bump on the injury front, but he was obviously an elite player at the AHL level and he’s a player that can change the dynamic on the power play just with his shot alone. We’re interested to see how he performs in September.” – Garth Snow, NHL.com