Friday concluded all of my full draft profiles. Now, I will be sharing a few lists of mini-profiles. Today's list will be of all my "honourable mentions". These are players that I did like and had on a bigger list of guys I was interested in, but they didn't quite make the final cut for one reason or another. Even here I wanted to keep it to ten total players – five forwards, five defensemen – but I couldn't settle on one final cut for each position, so I'm doing 12 (6+6) instead.

There's a seventh forward that I was tempted to also add just because I can't commit to a reasonable cutoff, and that's Calum Ritchie. I didn't include him in my final list because I didn't think he would be available, but with the way others seem to be rising up into the middle of the first round on many lists I'm thinking it's more possible than I initially guessed. Ritchie is an intriguing two way center who had an okay point per game season in the OHL, but has been great playing with other stars for Team Canada at the Hlinka and World U18s.

So for these honourable mentions, I'll be covering the full range of Toronto's picks once again, from guys I'd be interested in straight up at 28, to guys I'd trade down for, to later round picks.

Let's get to it!

Charlie Stramel

Stramel is a pretty fascinating prospect to evaluate this year. He had a lot of hype as a prospect going into last season, where he was a D-1. He missed most of the season with an injury, but when he did return he was one of the top players on the US NTDP team and for Team USA on their World U18 squad. He even got into one game as a 16 year old on their World Junior team. This year, he was ranked 10th by Bob McKenzie on his pre-season rankings and he was one of the few players joining the NCAA for his draft year. Unlike Fantilli, Wood, or Brindley... he didn't have a good time of it. Wisconsin was a pretty bad team, and by some reports a bit dysfunctional behind the scenes. They cleaned house of their coaching staff after the season and have some hope they can turn things around and become a top program again in the NCAA's top conference.

For his part, Stramel played center for Wisconsin and had only 12 points in 33 games. He did play for Team USA at the World Juniors, which is pretty rare and impressive for draft-year players, and did well in a depth role. He's a big (6'3") center/winger who has shown flashes of high level skill in close areas, whether it's handling the puck, shooting or passing it. He has a bit of a two-way game developing as well. There is a lot to like with Stramel, the issue is that it seems like you're really betting on the potential that he hasn't had the time or opportunity to show yet. Bob McKenzie has him ranked 34th in his final rankings, so he'll likely be available when Toronto picks and maybe if they trade down.

David Edstrom

I am so god damned mad but also proud. Early this season I took a peak at Noah Dower Nilsson, a Swedish forward who was running up two points per game in the U20 junior level but was getting some bad reviews by scouts. I wanted to see what was up for myself, and in the end my eye kept getting caught by Nilsson's center: David Edstrom. Edstrom is a 6'3" center who is more quiet on the ice than Nilsson and "only" was at a point per game, but he was the one on the ice doing all the dirty work all over the ice. I brought up Edstrom on an early season stream of Will Scouch's, and got the thumbs up by him. Then I saw other scouts talk him up. Then I saw he wasn't ranked on Bob McKenzie's mid-season ranking at all and thought he'd be my foremost "later round" hidden gem to profile.

Then the World U18s happened and he had 5 goals and 8 points and was one of Sweden's best forwards on offense and defense and he had 4 points in 11 SHL games and god dammit his draft helium blew him through the roof. He's big, he plays a solid two way game, he goes to the dirty areas and is a menace in front, and he just knows how to score goals around the net. I've seen a lot of people put him in their first round, which is too high for my taste. Maybe if Toronto trades down, but I have enough concern about his high end offensive skill and skating to take him in the first round. I still like him a lot though, and I'm proud of myself for spotting him before I read any scout praising him (I'm sure it happened, I just didn't see it before I noticed him on my own).

McKenzie has him at 37th on his final rankings, making him an interesting trade-down candidate.

From Lassi Alanen's European tracking project:

Juraj Pekarcik

Pekarcik is a 6'2" winger from Slovakia who bounced all over Slovakia this year. He had 20 points in 16 games at their U20 junior league, then had 8 games in their second tier pro league, then another 30 games in their top pro league. While playing at both pro levels, Pekarcik was playing under 10 minutes a night on their fourth lines. Not getting a lot of playing time, only managing 8 points in those 38 pro games.

But like Stenberg, where he really showed his worth was for Team Slovakia on the international stage. He did have the benefit of playing on the top line with Dvorský, but Pekarcik got rave reviews for being the guy doing a lot of the dirty work on the forecheck and on transitions. He is a worker bee buzzing all over the ice, but also has a good amount of skill handling the puck and making passes. He'd be a nifty trade down option into the third round, especially since with a September 12th birthday he's one of the youngest prospects in this draft. Hoping he'll come to North America next year as a CHL import or something.

McKenzie has Pekarcik at 71st on his final rankings, so he would be a trade down candidate with a second pick Toronto might get around the third round.

Gavyn Thoreson

Thoreson is a short (5'8") but stocky (183 lbs) winger who has everything I like in a small, zippy forward. He's very hard working on the ice and fights for every inch of space on his own terms – and often wins against much larger opponents. He also is a very good skater and uses it to zip around the ice with and without the puck, but is especially effective manipulating defenders with his feet. He also has some clever tricks to make use of his skating in a way that helps him avoid the weaknesses of his size, things like a good ol' give and go.

It paid off for him this year. He started the year in US high school, crushing the Minnesota circuit to the tune of 97 points in only 31 games, and then making the jump to the USHL where he had 23 points in 23 games. He's committed to join St. Cloud in the NCAA in two years, so he'll be a longer term project. I wouldn't mind him at all with one of Toronto's later picks, and I think he'll be available too.

From Mitch Brown's tracking project:

Tommaso De Luca

De Luca was an Italian born, Swiss raised forward who played as an import in the WHL this year. He's a 6'0" ft center who played on the second worst team in the league, and by the look of it he plans on playing next season in the Swiss pro league – one of the better pro leagues in Europe. He only had 49 points in 65 games, but was on the third lowest-scoring team in the WHL.

Despite his point totals, De Luca is a smart player and had some sparkling tracking data that would seem to indicate that he was perhaps unlucky and should have had more points. He achieved his results by being a "little things" king, making smart little plays all over the ice, on both sides of the puck, to help drive play in the right direction. His issue seems to be not quite having the skill to capitalize on the chances he created, so count him as a potential later round pick who could maybe turn into a Holmberg-type depth player.

From Mitch Brown's tracking project:

Andrei Loshko

Loshko is a 6'1" center/winger from Belarus who played as an import player in the QMJHL the past two seasons. He led his team in points with 70 in 67 games, while also having great tracking data and was highly effective on the powerplay – 11 of his goals and 26 of his points came with the man advantage. Belarus has not been playing in any major international tournaments because of the countries' alliance with Russia, but he actually played on their World U18 roster two seasons ago as a 16 year old.

Loshko definitely plays at a very advanced level already, and was rewarded with a lot of playing time in all situations by his coach despite being brand new to North American hockey. He killed penalties, led the powerplay, hard matched to shut down the opposing team's top line, played to protect the lead, played to help start a comeback, and so on. He's another "little things" king who coaches will love, but probably has more offensive skill than De Luca. I consider him a tweener for maybe a third round guy if they get a pick in that range, but I'd probably prefer to see if he falls to the fifth round.

Mikhail Gulyayev

Gulyayev is another top Russian defense prospect alongside Dmitri Simashev, but is probably his polar opposite. Gulyayev is a bit shorter (5'11") and much more offensive minded. He played in 13 KHL games and got one point, he played in 12 VHL games and got 4 points there, and spent the rest of the season in the MHL junior level where he had 25 points in 22 games... as a defenseman.

Gulyayev has all the skills you'd expect from a top offensive defenseman who managed to play in so many pro games as a 17 year old. He's a brilliant skater, very strong with the puck on his stick, a great passer, and has a good shot from medium distance when he gets the puck around the faceoff circles. By the end of the season in the MHL, his defense had improved a lot too – it could still use some work, and he'll never be elite at it, but any improvement there means he's less of a liability on the ice for big moments. His offense will carry him to a first round pick almost assuredly. The only reason I didn't write a profile on him is because I thought he would not be in our range, but he landed 23rd on McKenzie's final rankings and that would put him in Toronto's range – especially as a smallish, more offensively minded Russian defenseman.

Jakub Dvorak

Dvorak is a giant (6'5") left shot Czech defenseman who missed most of this season with an injury he suffered very early in the season. He's a bit of a poor man's Simashev, having a similar size and being a good (but not as good) skater, and having defense as his greatest strength. He's shown some potential for being a capable puck mover so he can at least contribute to driving play offensively, but he'll likely never be a powerplay or offensive zone quarterback.

He only played in 24 total games in the Czech pro league this year because of his injury, but did manage to play for the Czechs at the Hlinka tournament and the World U18s. But at the Worlds he had just come back from his injury, and he did not look as sharp as he did at the Hlinka. He has some promise for sure, and I think he'd be a trade down candidate since the injury I think prevented any major breakout by him this year.

Albert Wikman

Wikman is a 6'1" left shot defenseman from Sweden who profiles as a defensive defenseman, but has some promise on transitions and as a playmaker. He played mostly at the U20 junior level in Sweden, and had only 12 points in 43 games. He also played as a depth defender for Team Sweden at some of their international tournaments, putting up 3 points in 11 combined games. Offensive production may never be a strength of his, but he seems like a poor man's Willander.

Like Willander, the foundation of his defensive strength comes from his skating – and Wikman may be one of the more underrated skating prospects in this draft. Not the best, to be clear, but he doesn't get as much credit as he maybe should. He uses his skating to close pretty aggressively on an opponent, and stick to him until he gives up the puck or turns it over. He did manage to play in 11 SHL games for Färjestad, and another 5 playoff games for them at the pro level, and I think he'd make for a real interesting project if he manages to fall to the later rounds... but I don't think he will.

Hoyt Stanley

Stanley is a guy I almost wrote a full profile on, but decided against it. He is now listed as a 6'2" right shot defenseman playing in the BCHL, and is committed to Cornell University in the NCAA. But when he was drafted to the WHL in 2020, he was only 5'7" – so needless to say he's had a bit of a late growth spurt over the past couple of years.

This makes Stanley an interesting case for a longer term development project. He is a very toolsy but unrefined defense prospect who has some promise on both the offensive and defensive side, but clearly needs some work and development. He's a good skater, and I think he'll get even better when he has more time to fully grow into his body now that he's (maybe) stopped growing upwards. He'll get better physically, defensively and with his explosive skating and powerful shooting once he packs on some muscle as well. Stanley is all about potential right now, which is why I wouldn't take him until the later rounds as a swing for the fences kind of pick. But he should be available by then.

Donovan McCoy

McCoy is a 6'1" right shot defenseman who played for the OHL champions, the Peterborough Petes. He was a big part of their well balanced team, full of two-way players and a deep roster that most teams found difficult to contend with. He profiles more as a defensive defenseman, with only 13 points in 65 games. However, he almost matched that in the playoffs with 12 points in 22 games. He also got little time on the powerplay, with only three points combined between the regular season and playoffs, while Samuel Mayer and Gavin White got the bulk of time with the man advantage.

Offensively, he does work well as a puck mover to help keep it going in the right direction. He even shows some pretty creative foot and stick work to help elude forecheckers to get the puck out of his own end with control. But he doesn't show any real dynamic offensive skill (yet), and his greatest strength will always be his defense. He's a long shot, long term project like Stanley but I'd be equally interested in McCoy in the later rounds if he falls.

From Mitch Brown's tracking project:

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, some NCAA, some USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, and The Athletic.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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