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The Nation Network’s 2017 Top 100 Draft Eligible: #70-67

We round the corner into the 60’s with the next group of prospects. As we approach the early third round of selections, the players start to get more interesting with better skillets and separators than their predecessors. It’s also where there will be a lot more variance in rankings, as certain teams may have these players ranked higher than others, thus some of these players profiled today could hear their names in the second round.

With that – let’s take a look at the four players that we have ranked between 70th-67th in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

#70: Ivan Chekhovich (LW/C – QMJHL)

By Ryan Biech

Bio:

  • Age: 18 – January 4th, 1999
  • Birthplace: Yekaterinburg, RUS
  • Frame: 5’10” / 171 lbs

The Russian born Chekhovich had a decent season for Baie-Comeau after being selected 3rd overall in the CHL import draft. He led the Dakkar in points (59), goals (26) and assists (33), while finishing third in points amongst first time draft eligible forwards in the QMJHL. He finished second in SOG (193) amongst that same peer group in the QMJHL.

His shooting percentage of 13.5% was ranked 25th for first time eligible QMJHL forwards – so he shot a lot but didn’t have lofty point totals due to a high shooting percentage. His primary points made up 72.8% of his total points for the year.

Baie-Comeau just didn’t generate a lot of goals, but Chekhovich GF% was 55.3% with a GFRel% 13.1%.

All of these are encouraging signs for his production.

Ideally, we’d like to see a little more consistent production, as there was two major dips in his 5 game rolling PPG during the year.

He had a very productive U18 tournament in April, finishing tied for third in points with 5 goals and 4 assists. Ideally he would’ve shot more, as he had an inflated shooting percentage of 23.8%, but it was still a noteworthy performance.

Chekhovich is an agile and quick skater who uses it to his advantage. He pushes defenceman back with his quick attack. He is a good playmaker who finds his teammates open with space but has a quick snap shot that is deceptive. He will need to add some more upper body strength and work on his 200 foot game to take the step to the pro ranks.

pGPS doesn’t shed a very successful light on Chekhovich, with only 9.2% of comparable players becoming NHL regulars. But their expected points/82 games at 40.9 points is an encouraging sign.

#69: Nathan Schnarr (C – OHL)

By Ryan Biech

Bio:

  • Age: 17 – June 15th, 1999
  • Birthplace: Kitchener, ON, CAN
  • Frame: 6’3″ / 181 lbs

Ranked 47th amongst North American skaters, Nate Schnarr of the Guelph Storm is an intelligent centre who already has an NHL frames that teams covet.

Schnarr was a late cut from the Storm during the 2015-16 training camp and headed back to GOJHL, where he tore it up. He ended the season as the Rookie of the Year and First All Star Team in the GOJHL. He also appeared in 6 games for the Storm, where he posted one goal and three assists.

He was able to crack the Storm roster for this season and was effective but unfortunately didn’t produce. It is important to remember that the Storm did struggle this season, finishing with the second worst record in the OHL, but are poised to be a breakout team next year with a plethora of young talent which includes Schnarr.

It’s worth noting that Schnarr’s 2.43 SH/GP had him ranked 14th amongst first time draft eligible OHL forwards.

Schnarr doesn’t have any specific trait that sets him apart, but he has a very good work ethic and thinks the game well. He does always leave you wanting a little more, but you can sense that it’s coming. He could go anywhere in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th rounds at the 2017 NHL draft as teams would expect that breakout to happen and would want to snap him up before someone else does. He just has too many things working for him.

Surprisingly despite the low production, 21.1% of Schnarr’s statistical comparables went onto becoming NHL regulars. That type of value in the third round is pretty good, and given the context of him being in his first full season and the expected rise of the Storm next season – Schnarr may turn out to be an under the radar target that pays off in the long run.

#68: Alexei Lipanov (C – VHL)

By Ryan Biech

Bio:

  • Age: 17 – August 17th, 1999
  • Birthplace: Moskva, RUS
  • Frame: 6’0″ / 170 lbs

Alexei Lipanov is a player who could see his stock rise all the way to the first round simply because of the skill set he has. My views of Lipanov have been limited to the U18 tournament, so I will turn to Craig Button from TSN to give a scouting report:

Open up ice quickly’ type of speed that can break down defenders and leave them defenseless. Also has excellent agility and quickness that he uses in tight areas to be elusive. Very smart and he makes good plays everywhere in the game and he competes hard. Has an excellent shot and is a hungry, determined player. Very responsible centre in the Russian mold of centres.

His speed is his most noticeable quality and he uses it to his advantage to generate offence.

There is obviously the ‘Russian Factor’ in play here and will ultimately determine where he is selected, but there is no doubting his talents. He has won a Silver Medal at the U17 WHC, Bronze at the U18 and won the VHL championship.

If Lipanov does choose to go to the CHL next year, the Barrie Colts in the OHL currently have his rights.

#67: Jonas Rondbjerg (RW – SuperElit)

By Ryan Biech

Bio:

  • Age: 18 – March 31st, 1999
  • Birthplace: Denmark
  • Frame: 6’0″ / 176 lbs

Closing out this group of prospects is Danish winger Jonas Rondbjerg who was been plying his trade in Sweden this past year. He spent the majority of his season in the J20 SuperElit league, but did appear in 5 games with Vaxjo in the SHL. He unfortunately was unable to register a point, which would’ve helped him with the 51% rule that I covered earlier this month, but the fact that he appeared in any SHL games during his draft year is very encouraging.

Rondjberg has shown very well on the international stage with Denmark including being named the top player on Denmark for the U18 D1A WJC.

Steve Kournianos from The Draft Analyst has a scouting report on the young Danish winger:

Top Danish prospect who has a high hockey IQ and excellent instincts. Rondbjerg has few weaknesses, and he skates with a powerful stride, excellent balance and strong lateral maneuverability. His body and stick are always positioned properly within the defensive zone, and he keeps his head on a swivel to steal pucks for quick transitions up ice. Make no mistake — Ronbjerg is an offensive force with soft hands and excellent vision. He can handle the toughest of passes while operating at fast speeds, and can make sharp directional changes immediately after puck receipt. Ronbjerg is a versatile late-game option whether trailing or clinging to a lead.

Denmark has been producing some legitimate NHL talent recently and Rondjberg looks like he will be another name on that list

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