We Compared The Hockey News’ Top 100 Prospects to the Leafs’ Draft Picks

Last week, Corey Pronman released his Top 100 Draft Prospects. We wrote about it here, taking a look at who Pronman ranked in the ranges that the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to pick. This week, The Hockey News released their Top 100 Draft Prospects list, so here we go again.

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One of the reasons why it made sense to do this style of article again for THN’s Top 100  is that there was so little overlap between THN and Pronman (besides the the fourth overall pick candidates, of course). We’ll be talking about (almost) entirely different players today than we did last week.

More past the jump.

Fourth Overall

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THN seems to be one of the fewer and fewer rankings that still has Boston College defender Noah Hanifin (3rd) ranked ahead of Erie’s Dylan Strome (4th) and London’s Mitch Marner (5th). As the Draft draws closer, Strome especially seems to be pulling ahead of everyone not named McDavid or Eichel, but THN doesn’t seem ready to go there yet.

Hanifin didn’t put up big raw numbers for the Eagles, but it’s all relative. He was five points out of first in team scoring on a squad that didn’t have an Eichel-like catalyst up front. “Boston College didn’t score a lot this year – if you put him in those scenarios, he would run big numbers,” said another scout. “Exceptional skater, push-the-pace defender. He angles you. Great stick.”

So why hasn’t Strome passed Hanifin in THN’s rankings? It probably has something to do with his feet.

“Not as dynamic a skater as you’d like to see in someone who’s that high of a pick,” one scout said, “but he’s smart and he’d so good with the puck that he more than makes up for it. You want to say he’s a playmaker, but he’s got a rocket, too.”

No reason was given as to why Marner gets slotted behind Hanifin and Strome in particular, but that doesn’t mean THN doesn’t have nice things to say about him.

“He’s a Claude Giroux clone,” one scout said. “He’s a lot like Patrick Kane,” said another. 
Even though some worry about his size, Marner actually doesn’t get hit that often because he’s so elusive. And he doesn’t exactly shy away from traffic. His terrific stick skills often result in him coming out with the puck in battles against bigger players.

Nashville’s First Round Pick

THN ranks two Saint John Sea Dogs defenders and an Ottawa 67’s stud centre in the 22nd-to-24th range.

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First is Jakub Zboril, the 6’2, 185lb Czech defenceman that does a little bit of everything – he scoores a bit, defends a bit, and hits a bit. In 44 games this year with Saint John, Zboril scored a respectable 13 goals and 33 points, with 73 penalty minutes. Zboril was ranked 12th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, and 22nd by International Scouting Services. Pronman had him 38th.

Zboril’s teammate Thomas Chabot finished one spot behind in 23rd. Another 6’2 blueliner, Chabot scored 12 goals and 41 points in 66 games this season for the Sea Dogs, and added another five points in seven games with Canada’s U18 team. Chabot is an excellent skater with good puck skills and smarts, and was ranked 16th by both CSS (North American skaters) and ISS, while Pronman had him down in 45th.

One of the biggest ‘surprises’ on THN’s Top 100 Draft Prospects list is definitely this next one, with Ottawa’s Travis Konecny slotting in at #24. If I’m running the Leafs’ draft table, there’s no hesitation in taking Konecny with my late first round pick. Skilled but undersized, Konecny has been seen all over the first round draft rankings, but most often in the early teens – Pronman has him 7th. In 60 games this season, Konecny put up 29 goals and 68 points. Last year it was 70 in 63. There’s a lot to like about this kid, especially in the early twenties.

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65th Overall

THN has Rouyn-Noranda defenceman Jeremy Lauzon ranked as the 64th best prospect in the upcoming Draft. Lauzon is a 6’2, 194lb two-way defender that put up 36 points in 60 games this season for the Huskies. Scouts seem to always talk about his above-average skating ability first before moving on to other facets of his game. He’s ranked 42nd amongst North American skaters by CSS, while Pronman had him 98th.

In the 65th slot, we finally see some overlap. THN has Saginaw’s Mitchell Stephens ranked here, and we talked about him last week in the Pronman piece. Funny enough, Pronman had him in the Nashville pick range, ranked 23rd, while THN sees him as a third round pick type of talent. Stephens, a 6’0 centre, scored 22 goals and 48 points in 62 games for the Spirit this past season.

Next up is the smooth-skating Denis Guryanov, ranked 66th by THN. The 6’2, 192lb winger scored 15 goals and 25 points in 23 games for HC Lada Togliatti’s junior team, while also posting a single point in eight games with the big club, and another six goals and seven points in five games with Russia’s U18 team at the World Junior Championships. NHL CSS ranked Guryanov as the 7th best European skater, while Pronman ranked him 35th.

95th Overall

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Ranked 94th, John Marino is a 6’2, 181lb defender that played last season for South Shore of the USPHL. If that sounds familiar it’s likely because Nolan Vesey, Toronto’s sixth round draft pick last year, played for South Shore before making the jump to University of Maine. Marino and Vesey were teammates during the 2013-14 season, so we know the Leafs’ scouting staff has seen Marino play. In 49 games, Marino scored four goals and 28 points. Marino is committed to Yale University, expected to make the jump to the NCAA in 2016-17. He was ranked 63rd by NHL Central Scouting.

Nick Boka is ranked 95th by THN – a 6’1, 196lb defenceman out of the U.S. NTDP. Boka scored four points in 20 games USHL games, as well as another 11 points in 54 games with the US National U18 team. Boka is committed to the University of Michigan next year, and was ranked 117th amongst North American skaters by NHL CSS. 

And finally, a goaltender! THN ranks Brynas Jr.’s Felix Sandstrom as their 96th best prospect. In 14 SuperElit games, the 6’2, 192lb netminder posted a 2.63 GAA and a .907 SV%. Sandstrom also found his way into two SHL games with the men’s team in Gavle, with 1.09 GAA and a .963 SV%. I could think of worse ways to spend a fourth round pick. 

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      • silentbob

        I don’t hate Konecny and wouldn’t be upset at all if they draft him, though I’d prefer if we moved away from the “Skilled but undersized” players. To use the 4th pick as an example, why take Marner when you could pick Strome or Hanifin, who are both just as talented as Marner & bring size to the table.

        Size isn’t everything, but its not nothing either. I think it can be a bit harder then Dubas made it seem a couple weeks ago to add size (at least good, talented players with size, if we’re talking Orr, sure no problem).

        • A couple things… I have Strome ahead of Marner on my own list, but that’s just my personal opinion. There are a lot of smart people out there who think that Marner is the better player, and if he’s the better player than Strome’s size is irrelevant.

          Move away from the ‘skilled but undersized’ players? That implies that the Leafs have too many. They may have some small players but they certainly don’t have so much skill that they can get picky about size.

          If I have two equal players in every way, but one is 5’10 and the other is 6’2, of course you go for size. But we’re not talking about equal players.

          • silentbob

            I think its only becomes irrelevant when the different in talent is a certain degree (and no, I can’t say for sure what that degree is). I would argue, for example, that Patrick Kane is more talented then Getzlaf, but not so much so that I’d take Kane on my team a head of Getzlaf.

            No it doesn’t imply the Leafs have too many skilled players. They are not two, exclusive skill sets/attributes. It means there are many elements of a good team and a good player, size and skill are two of them, and I don’t think 1 should be ignored in favor of the other, both have to be factored in. Over the last 5-6 years the Habs have worked pretty hard to add size to their line up. They found out that it is an important element of a team and that its not always easy to add to your line up, lets learn from their experience.

            If you mean Strome and Marner and Hanifin, I think we are talking about basically equal players. If you mean Konecny, it depends what players you’re comparing him too. I think most agree that taking the best player available is the smart way to go, but best and most skilled aren’t synonyms.

          • Gary Empey

            Don’t underestimate the need for speed at the NHL level. I have seen a few high scoring junior players that appear to be playing on snowshoes. They fit well on the powerplay but are a liability on five on five.

          • Gary Empey

            Most assessments of Dylan Strome mention he needs to improve his skating.

            -Dawn Braid, Toronto Maple Leafs Skating Coach,

            “It’s nice to see him coming along,” said Braid, who believes Strome has developed better body control, posture and skating on his edges. “We always knew he was a talented player and sometimes they were questioning his skating. And I think over the next few years, if Dylan sticks with it, when that strength side of it comes in, when he matures physically, I think the games will be huge.”

          • Strome can’t skate like Marner can – that’s not a secret. But if anyone had real concerns about Strome not being able to skate at the NHL level, he would not have been a consensus top five pick for the last six months.

  • With the second first rounder I’d love to see the Leafs draft Kylington (If he falls that far, which he may due to his absence from the WJC and the trouble he had with his team). With the later picks, why not target a guy like Nikita Pavlychev? He’s 6 and a half feet tall. There’s your size.

  • Bottom 5 weight

    30th Calgary
    29th Chicago
    28th Edmonton
    27th Vancouver
    26th Rangers
    25th Pitt

    Bottom 5 height

    Top 5 weight



    Size evidently is not that important.

  • Gary Empey

    I am not sure why everyone (including management), seems to be missing the fact that the leafs have major trouble moving the puck out of their own end. As a leaf fan how many times have you held your breath waiting for them to get control of the puck and make a good pass up. What happens though is, if it’s not a goal then the puck gets up to the redline and back in it comes. Reilly is the only one we feel confident in. Leafs already have some good skilled forwards but find it hard to get the puck up to them. Adding skilled forwards does little to address the problem. Leafs should choose Hanifin or Provorov with their first pick.

      • Gary Empey

        I understand the mentality behind drafting the best player available. Not being able to get the puck out of your own end is also generally an awful idea. Brian Burke seen the problem and drafted Morgan Rielly. We all wondered at the time. No one wonders any more. This year there are some very good defenseman also in the draft. With all the hype given to the top two prospects they seem to be overlooked. I do love your picks with the Nashville’s first rounder. Jakub Zboril, Thomas Chabot.

    • silentbob

      If Hanifin is available at 4 and the Leafs pass on him I’ll be a little disappointed since I think he is the 3rd best player in the draft. Provorov at 4th overall is a bit of a stretch since the consensus seems to be that Strome and Marner (At least) are better prospects then him.

      In the NFL or NBA, where teams are drafting players out of the development league, a teams needs plays a big role in drafting. Since most prospects are 1-2-3+ years away from the NHL you can’t effective draft to address needs, you have to draft the best prospect available. What makes it interesting (especially past the first few picks which are often more clear) is what makes 1 prospect better then another?

      Potential vs NHL readiness. Different combos of skill, speed, size, hockey IQ, attitude/personality etc… (I don’t think you ever really have “two equal prospects, or BPA is the same for team to team). Coach-able attributes vs natural ones etc… But it should always come down to best player available.