You know you have reached Legend status when you can be semi-retired but have the entire hockey world eating up your every word when you do make an appearance. Such is life for the aptly named Bobfather (TSN’s Bob McKenzie for those who don’t know), as he puts down the margarita to deliver his annual Midseason (kind of..) Rankings.
To save you some time I put Bob’s full list together along with his Pre-season rankings. One thing that is clear is that there has been relatively little movement since the pre-season. Especially at the top of the rankings where the only real change was Luke Hughes jumping up into the Top 5. Another small note that maybe only I find interesting, but the biggest movers in each direction are all players who have played ‘full seasons’. That is to say that the USHL, NCAA, European leagues and the QMJHL have all played full or pretty close to full seasons.
Getting back to the rankings, Owen Power continues to be the cream of this draft crop. He held his top ranking and was a unanimous selection among the scouts polled as mentioned by McKenzie. It’s not every day you find a 6-6 18 year old defenseman with offensive skill. As a true Freshman, Power put up 16 points, good for first among all Freshman in the NCAA, edging out Jake Sanderson, a Top 5 pick in last year’s draft.
As mentioned Hughes was the biggest jumper in the Mid-Season Rankings jumping from 10th to 5th. The name replacing him at the 10 spot is a player I suspect could be a wild card at the draft. Jesper Wallstedt is one of only two junior aged goaltenders with more than two games played in the SHL this season. While facing men, Wallstedt held a 2.23 GAA good for fourth in the league to go along with a 0.908 SV%. The biggest knock against him is the lack of any meaningful high profile games this season. He played just 1 game in both the SHL playoffs and World Junior Championships and failed to deliver in both. He is a late born so he will not be on Sweden’s U18 roster for the Hlinka Gretzky Tournament and to make matters worse, Sebastian Cossa is having an unbelievable season.
A few more wildcards to keep an eye on are Carson Lambos (15) and Aatu Raty (20). Lambos was a polarizing player among scouts according to McKenzie. Some scouts saw him as a top talent while others didn’t even have him in the first round. An undisclosed injury will only add to the noise around Lambos, but you would have to figure that there is bound to be at least one team willing to take a chance on the defender.
Raty on the other hand is having a rough fall from grace depending who you speak with. He was projected to be the number one pick a few years back by some, however his draft stock seems to be regressing to where it belongs. He may have had a rough season in Liiga, however it would be a shock to see him fall out of the first round.
An interesting name in the mid to late first round is Matthew Coronato, the USHL’s leading goal scorer. His name should sound familiar to Habs fans as he and Habs prospect Sean Farrell (MTL ’20, 4th) have been lighting up the USHL. The two have been McDavid/Draisaitl-esque as they sit at the top of the USHL scoring board with a large gap between them and the third highest scorer (who is also on their team).
The final player I will bring up is Zachary L’Heureux. I personally love his style, however it should come as no surprise that his attitude and antics may be a cause for concern for some. He is often compared to Brad Marchand and his draft stock seems to be following a similar path according to the Bobfather. Regardless, as a mid to late round prospect (where hopefully the Habs will draft with some luck), he is a player that would look great in the Blue, Blanc, Rouge.
While I have no where near that amount of hours spent watching film/games as those polled by the Bobfather, for fun, my Top 5 would go:
- Jesper Wallstedt – I am of the philosophy you build from the crease out so I am bias
- Owen Power – hard to push him any further down
- Matthew Beniers – defensively responsible Centers that can score are the next rarest player to find after a generational Two-Way Defenseman
- William Eklund – statistically and arguably better than Holtz and Raymond in the SHL this season
- Luke Hughes – does not have the offensive gifts his brothers do, but he is a much more balanced and rounded defenseman
What would you Top 5 look like? Let us know and as always, make sure to check out all the latest at Hot Sauce Sports and stop by our Youtube channel for all the podcast and interviews! This week on Not Sauce For Work, Peeze Terry and Eagle bring on Alex the Intern and Akeem Hoyte-Charles to talk Super League, Jake Paul and the larger issues in life.