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Kevin Papetti’s 2018 NHL draft rankings: June edition (#32-62)

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Can the Maple Leafs find the steal of the draft?

Sudbury Wolves v Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

The 32-62 range offers plenty of variety, as a handful of these players will end up going in the first round, and a few could go undrafted altogether. In case you missed it, my Final 31 can be found here, and you can compare this to TSN’s final rankings here. There are a few players who I simply did not see enough to confidently assess: Jay O’Brien, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Blake McLaughlin, Jack Drury, Nathan Dunkley, and Phillip Kurashev.

32) C Ryan McLeod- Mississauga (OHL)

He’s 6’2”, a centre, and one of the better skaters in this draft class. Given this profile, he will be a low variance selection, and a safer pick to be a bottom six forward. His speed makes him a fairly strong zone entry threat, and he owns all the tools to provide value in his own end. The question with McLeod will be his ability to find the scoresheet, as he’s one of the oldest players in this class, and has not proven to be a high-end scorer or powerplay quarterback.

33) RW Ruslan Iskhakov- Krasnaya (MHL)

His quickness was on full-display at the Under-18 tournament, and he’s well above-average as a puck handler. He’s only 5’8”, and he will certainly need to put on weight, but I’m all for betting on strong skater and puck carriers. There’s always risk involved when taking an undersized forward, but Iskhakov’s speed and craftiness provides him with a chance to be a high-end scorer. While he’s been a strong performer for Russia at International tournaments, he will definitely be a high-variance type of pick.

34) LD K’Andre Miller- US Under 18 Team (USHL)

He’s 6’4” and moves well, so I won’t be surprised if a team takes a chance on him with a first round pick. As a former forward, he doesn’t look as polished defensively as many of the other players in the class, but he’s able to play a physical style and move the puck fairly well. I don’t think he’s strong enough as a puck mover to warrant a top 20 pick, but his speed and size combination is easy to dream on.

35) C/LW Jakub Lauko- Chomutov (Czech)

He led Czech Republic in scoring at last year’s under 17 tournament, as well as this year’s under-18 event, so he’s turned some heads along the way. He’s also spent much of the past two years playing in a pro league, and played a small role in the World Juniors. He’s a 6’1”, an above average skater, and carries a chance to stick at centre. I haven’t seen him play as often as the majority of players on this list, but he’s been one of the better puck carriers while playing for his country, and he wins his fair share of battles. I haven’t seen enough of him to confidently place him in my first round, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen in a small sample.

36) C Jacob Olofsson- Timra (Allsvenskan)

Olofsson fell a little bit in my final rankings as I continue to question his skating, but he’s a well-rounded forward with a chance to stick up the middle. He’s 6’2” and a standout in the dirty areas, as he can win puck battles and score plenty of garbage goals. He is usually one of Sweden’s most dangerous scoring threats on the powerplay, but he’s probably not quite quick enough to be a 55+ point scorer. He’s outside of my first round as a result, but he’d be a solid selection in the second round.

37) RW Serron Noel- Oshawa (OHL)

He’s a 6’5” power forward who was one of Canada’s best players at the under-18 tournament. He’s a strong skater and impressive puck carrier for a player of his size, and he plays with an edge. He’s a low variance pick, and should be a strong forechecker if he makes the NHL someday. His performance at the under-18 event leads me to believe that he could breakout in the OHL next year, but it’s tough to see him as a top six forward given his point production to date.

38) LD Jared McIsaac- Halifax (QMJHL)

He started the year as a sure-fire first round pick, but he did not put up great numbers in Halifax and slowly slipped down draft boards. However, he’s 6’1”, quite strong, and moves well enough to keep up at the NHL level. He was a solid contributor for Canada at both the U-18 and Hlinka tournaments, and it looks like his point production is bound to take a leap forward next year. Defenders with size and speed are typically safer bets to make the NHL, but his lack of scoring limits his upside.

39) LW Adam Mascherin- Kitchener (OHL)

He’s a former second round pick who will re-enter the draft. Mascherin is undersized, an average skater at best, but one of the best in the class at finishing his chances. If he can round out the rest of his game, his shot could really carry him into a long NHL career. He’s always been a terrific OHL scorer, but his skating leaves questions on his game will translate at the NHL level.

40) RW Niklas Nordgren- HIFK (Liiga)

He was one of the top scorers at the under-18 tournament, and his skill level stood out in the process. He’s quick with everything he does, but his maximum straight-line speed leaves more to be desired for a 5’9” forward. Although he’s smaller, he could develop into a middle-six forward based on his quickness and scoring talent.

41) LD Nicolas Beaudin- Drummondville (QMJHL)

Beaudin led his team in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs, and he’s known as a strong playmaker and powerplay quarterback. He’s only 5’11” and needs to put on weight, so the typical questions arise regarding his ability to matchup against tougher competition at the NHL level. He’s one of the older players in this draft, and he’s never played for Canada at big International events, but his offensive skillset is impressive enough to make him a second round selection.

42) C David Gustafsson- HV71 (SHL)

He was a strong performer for Sweden at both the under-18 and Hlinka tournaments, and he earned 45 games in the SHL this season. He’s 6’1” two-way centre who should stick up the middle, and he is usually a top performer in the faceoff circle. My concern with Gustafsson is his scoring talent, as Berggren drove his line while playing for Sweden, and he’s not overly crafty as a puck carrier.

43) C Jack McBain- Toronto (OJHL)

While McBain chose the NCAA route over the CHL route, I’ve seen him play plenty of times for Team Canada at various events. He’s a 6’3” centre who handles the puck well for a player of his size, and he wins his fair share of puck battles. I thought he was Canada’s fourth best forward at the Hlinka behind Veleno, Hayton, and Thomas, but he hasn’t exactly been dominant either. He should be able to stick at centre, but his speed could limit his upside a bit in the NHL.

44) RD Jett Woo- Moose Jaw (WHL)

Woo is a 6’0” and stocky defender who moves and competes well. He’s a capable penalty killer, and makes a solid first pass to breakout of the zone. I think he’s more skilled than his numbers indicate, but he probably won’t run a top powerplay unit at the NHL level. You can read our profile of Woo here.

45) RD Nils Lundkvist- Lulea (SHL)

He’s a 5’11” defender who sees the ice well and is fairly impressive leading the breakout. He also played 28 games in a pro league this year, but he’s good rather than great in most aspects of the game. Lundkvist is a slightly above average puck mover, but he’s not overly big or physical, and doesn’t own the speed or flash of a high-end offensive defenceman. He’s typically one of the better players on Sweden, but his lack of a “carrying tool” probably limits him to second pairing upside.

46) LD Alexander Alexeyev- Red Deer (WHL)

Alexeyev is a 6’3” and physical defender who scored at a fairly impressive rate in the WHL this season. He’s noticeably skilled in the offensive zone for a bigger defender, and he owns a heavy shot. The concern here is his lateral quickness, as he will need to prove that he can play a solid transition game, and keep up with top NHL forwards.

47) LW Kirill Marchenko- Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

He’s similar to Noel in that he’s big, a slightly above average skater, and a talented puck carrier for a player of his size. His posted underwhelming numbers in the MHL this year, but he led Russia in scoring at the U-18 tournament, and his size and speed combination should allow him to become a strong forechecker. He carries a chance to develop into a middle-six forward who can complement your team’s smaller forwards.

48) LD Adam Ginning- Linkoping (SHL)

He’s a 6’3” defender who spent time in a pro league both this year and last year, and he’s consistently a dependable defender when he plays for his country. He won’t quarterback a top NHL powerplay, but he’s an impressive skater for a player of his size. His lack of point production and offensive flair keeps him out of the first round, but his footwork gives him a chance to be a shutdown defender. I’d be willing to take a chance on him in the early third round.

49) LW Linus Nyman- Kingston (OHL)*

After getting passed over in last year’s draft, Nyman 85 points in just 67 games with Kingston. and should be a lock to go in the middle rounds. He’s slightly undersized, but I’m impressed with his speed, and it’s tough to pass up one of the OHL’s better forwards in the middle rounds. I don’t see him becoming a star, but he’s quick and skilled enough to carry middle-six potential if everything breaks right.

50) RD Sean Durzi- Owen Sound (OHL)*

He finished second among OHL defenders in points per game this season, trailing only Evan Bouchard. Although he was passed over in last year’s draft, he should be a lock to be selected this time around, as proven to be an above average puck mover. Durzi is 6’0”, and he offers some potential if he can get stronger and round out his defensive game.

51) RW Aidan Dudas- Owen Sound (OHL)

He’s only 5’8” but stands out for his speed and puck carrying ability. He plays a complete game, and was a top performer at the Top Prospects Game. He was a little bit overshadowed playing behind last year’s 13th overall pick Nick Suzuki, but could break out offensively in a big way next season.

52) C Allan McShane- Oshawa (OHL)

He sees the ice well, makes high-end passes, and stood out as one of the better puck carriers on Team Canada at the under-18 tournament. McShane is slightly undersized but well-coordinated, and should be able to play a complete game once he fills out. I expect him to be a solid contributor for Canada at the ‘19-’20 World Juniors, and he’s worth a mid-second to early-third round pick.

53) C Cole Fonstad- Prince Albert (WHL)

He was one of Canada’s better puck carriers at the under-18 tournament, though I’ve never seen him take a game over and dominate. Fonstad needs to get stronger and win more puck battles, but he’s a real centre in a draft that lacks talent up the middle. I think he’s skilled enough with the puck to be a solid performer for Canada at the ‘19-’20 World Juniors.

54) LD Scott Perunovich- Minnesota Duluth (NCAA)*

I was impressed with him at the World Juniors, where he was one of the better puck movers on Team USA. He’s only 5’9”, and he’s been passed over in back-to-back drafts, but he should be a lock to be taken this year after leading his NCAA team in scoring. He won’t be taken until the middle rounds, but it’s tough to turn down one of Team USA’s better defenders in the middle rounds.

55) C Alexander Khovanov- Moncton (QMJHL)

This is one of the tougher players to evaluate in this class, as he missed the first half of the season, and it’s not clear when he got back to 100%. He was a top scorer at the U-17 tournament a year ago alongside Svechnikov and Denisenko, but scored at just a point per game pace in the QMJHL this year. He’s noticeably skilled with the puck, and it’s easy to dream on more scoring production, but we just didn’t see him dominate this year.

56) LD Spencer Stastney- US Under 18 Team (USHL)

He’s 5’10”, not a major standout offensively, and will likely fall on draft day as a result. However, he offers a similar profile to Victor Mete, and his speed allows him to keep a tight gap and cut off opposing forwards. Stastney won’t be taken in the first two rounds, but I’m usually willing to gamble on high-end skaters in the middle rounds. He’s a favourite of mine, and I’d look to scoop him up later on in the draft.

57) LW Johnny Gruden- US Under 18 Team (USHL)

He posted impressive numbers with the US U-18 Team this year while playing alongside Wise, as well as a top talent in next year’s draft in Cole Caufield. He’s a 6’0” winger who is known for being a great competitor, but he looks like an average skater rather than an elite one. I’ve watched plenty of highlights of the US U-18 Team during their USHL season, and Gruden has made plenty of nice plays, but I just haven’t seen him standout in International tournaments. I think he’s better than what I’ve seen of him.

58) RW Jerry Turkulainen- JYP (Liiga)*

He’s older than most of the other over-agers, and he’s only listed at 5’7”, but his skating could carry him. He’s spent the past two seasons as a solid contributor in a pro league, and he’s known as a workhorse. He outscored Kotkaniemi in Liiga this year, but he’s almost two years older. He will probably be available in the late rounds, and he’s worth a shot.

59) C Cameron Hillis -Guelph (OHL)

Hillis played for Canada at the recent U-18 tournament, and showcased average to slightly above average speed, and an ability to contribute as a two-way centre. He scored at a point per game rate on a mediocre OHL team, and is a regular option on the penalty kill. I haven’t seen him take over a game offensively, but he’s an adequate puck carrier who should stick at centre.

60) RD Filip Johansson- Leksands (Allsvenskan)

He’s never posted strong scoring numbers in Sweden’s junior league, but impressed as a mobile all-situations defender at the Hlinka and U-18 tournaments. He’s a 6’1” defender who moves quite well, and carries the potential to defend NHL forwards. I like him because of the eye test rather than by the numbers, and I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on him in the mid to late rounds if he’s still available.

61) LD Toni Utunen- Tappara (Liiga)

Utunen is flying completely under the radar, but I thought he was one of Finland’s best players at the Hlinka, and he captained his country at the recent U-18 event. He’s not overly flashy, but he moves the puck fairly well, and he competes well in his own end. Finland won the gold medal in the U-18 tournament, and it’s not like they did this without a few decent defenders.

62) LW Lukas Wernblom- Modo (Allsvenskan)

Wernblom stood out to me while playing for Sweden at both the U-18 and Hlinka tournaments. He was one of the better puck carriers on a team that lacked offensive flair, and he battles hard for an undersized forward. He’s one of the younger players in this class, and he should be available in the late rounds.