After writing full player profiles on prospects who I thought would be most interesting for the Leafs when they pick in the first and third rounds, I’m going to do something a bit different for their seventh round pick. The issue is that it’s really hard to know who will actually be available this late in the draft, and if there’s someone who I think is still pretty good as a prospect they probably will not last that long.
Instead, I will break down potential targets into three groups of mini-profiles. Today, I will focus on potential forwards who are first time draft eligible. The rest of the week I will write another on defensemen, then on goaltenders of all ages, and then another on forwards and defensemen who went undrafted in previous years.
My approach to this was to find a player that seemed more likely to fall in the draft, but who has something about them that could mean they have more value than you’d expect at first glance. That usually means someone who is smaller, plays in a more obscure league, doesn’t have a lot of points, has a very late birthday, or some combination of all of that. I try finding players who may not have a lot of points, but they show some signs of being able to produce more in the future — good underlying numbers according to microstats; low ice time or PP time on a stacked team; good even strength primary points; and a good surge in points in the second half of the season.
I also want to look at players who have something to offer in their profile that is at least a somewhat higher level skill that can project to the NHL. It can be skating, their shot, their physical projectability if they’re more defensive, or something along those lines.
So, that introduction out of the way, let’s look at some of the more interesting guys who are more likely to be late rounders.
Marcus Nguyen is a 5’10” right winger who played on a very deep Portland Winterhawks team in the WHL. He had 40 points in 68 games, which is a decent but not great total. Any high end prospect should be closer to a point per game if they play in junior. In my final watch list, I noted that he played a bottom six role while getting around 12 to 13 minutes per game. He actually finished near the top in primary points at even strength, since he didn’t get any powerplay time. His shot and point rate given his ice time is actually quite strong as a result.
So there’s reason to believe he could see a big spike in his production next season as Portland loses some of their best players due to aging out, and he gets a bigger role. He’s a strong skater with a good shot and decent play making, and has a gritty quality to his game as an energy/grinding winger. There’s a chance he doesn’t last to the seventh round as a result, but you don’t see him included on any draft lists elsewhere. Only a few people marking him as a sleeper. He also has a later birthday (August 2nd) so he may have more of a development leap in his future.
Zam Plante is another small, zippy and skilled forward who split this season between the Minnesota high school circuit, and the USHL powerhouse Chicago Steel. While in high school, he produced just under a 3 point per game pace: 24 goals and 64 points in 22 games. In the USHL, on a very deep team, Plante had 21 points in 31 games — and 15 of those were even strength primary points, while playing under 14 minutes per game.
Zam Plante is kind of an interesting adaptability case for this years draft. Found his forechecking, playmaking, and sense allowed him to dominate the high school level. In the USHL, it's been less prevalent, but he's smart enough to still be productive (21P in 31GP). pic.twitter.com/2wJABPVlVF— Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting) April 28, 2022
With an August 24th birthday, Plante is a later birthday who may have more room to develop his game. He’s committed to join the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA in 2023/24, so next season he will likely be one of the leading forwards for Chicago as they lose almost all of their top forwards to the NCAA — Fantilli, Miller, Blake, Lipkin, Harvey are their five top point leaders from last year, and they’re all committed to join their schools next season. He is a good candidate to explode in his D+1 season next year. He’s a smart, shifty and skilled small forward who has a good shot, and has strong underlying numbers from manually tracked microstats:
Joel Jonsson is a small 5’9” winger in Sweden. He played most of the season at the junior level. He started the year in the U18 level, where he dominated to the tune of 14 goals and 35 points in just 18 games. He then got promoted to the U20 level and still put up 34 points in 30 games, and another 7 points in 5 playoff games. He finished the season getting a taste of the pro level in Sweden’s second-tier pro league, the Allsvenskan, where had 2 points in 5 games. He wound up being included on Team Sweden’s U18 World Championship roster as well, where he had 2 points in 3 games.
I´ve yet to hear anyone talk about Joel Jonsson, Mora IK. 152 lbs smartness with some skill. Plays aggressively with high work-ethic at both ends. Scouting report: https://t.co/36kYGYzpJL— Swedish Prospects (@ProspectsSE) January 7, 2022
Kid can celly as well. #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/QYoDo81vgQ
So he is your classic small, zippy skilled winger who is a good skater but his smaller size and lack of a lot of pro experience may cause him to fall to the later rounds. He was never on anyone’s radar to start the year, but his strong production at three different levels give an indication of how far he developed. He likes to get the puck off his stick quickly, which works well for him given his size. But he is also pretty nifty handling the puck, so he can keep it away instead of trying to protect it physically — something he can’t really do with his size.
Daniil Bourosh is a 6’1” winger from Belarus, who joined the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL this season as an import. He led his time in goals (29) by 12, and finished third in total points with 44. Rouyn-Noranda was a bad team this year. The leader in points is a 21 year old who had 52 points in 63 games, and they finished with the 6th worst record in the league while scoring the 3rd fewest goals.
The red flag with Bourosh is that half his goals and points came on the powerplay, so he wasn’t nearly as productive at even strength. Some of that can be chalked up to the team around him being quite bad, but he also has some flaws — that’s why he will likely wind up as a later pick, if he gets drafted as well. The good reason to take him with a late swing is that he has an excellent shot — when you see his highlight pack below, you can tell from how many of his goals are just him ripping or blasting it by the goalie from anywhere on the ice. But he also has pretty good hands in tight and is a decent play maker. The big issue with him is his skating. He reminds of of Pavel Gogolev in that sense, and I can see him putting up bigger point and goal totals in the next few years in the QMJHL if he stays there, but teams may shy away from him all the same. He is eligible to return, since the CHL ban only applies to new imports from Russia and Belarus. Anyone who has already played in their leagues can return if they choose.
Konsta Kapanen is another from the Kappy Clan. He is the younger brother of Kasperi Kapanen — I guess Sami just really liked giving his kids alliterative names. And when I say little, I don’t just mean age. He’s a 5’8”, 152 lb winger who played this year in Finland. He started at the U20 junior level, where he had 40 points in 39 games. He also got into 5 games in Finland’s second tier pro level, the Mestis, where he had 3 points in 5 games; and then in 6 games in the Liiga, where he had 2 points in 6 games.
He’s an older prospect with September 29, 2003 birthday. And his size is a pretty big red flag. He’d be a real long shot given his size, but that’s what seventh round picks are for. He has good skating and skill, and if his bone age is lagging behind to the point he has another inch or two to grow, he could turn into a decent swing. He has a good shot, can handle the puck well, can skate well and has some nifty close-quarters skill. He would need to get bigger and stronger, but he has at least an interesting foundation to work with for a late round swing.
Connor Hvidston is a 6’1” center who played on Swift Current in the WHL. He is interesting for a few reasons. As a September 11th birthday, he is one of the youngest players in the draft. He’s also a pretty slight 165 lbs given his height. His 32 points in 58 games doesn’t seem great, but he was in a similar situation as Nguyen where he was used mainly as a third line center, and not getting much time on the powerplay. He also got to play for Team Canada at the U18 World Championship. Not to put too much stock into that, because Canada routinely can’t bring their best players given the only CHLers who are available are those on teams who miss the playoffs. Hvidston did get a goal and an assist for Canada in four games.
Canada leads again!— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 28, 2022
Connor Hvidston scores his first of the U18 tournament to give Canada a 2-1 lead in their Quarterfinal matchup with Finland. pic.twitter.com/y0jr0WWzsa
In the WHL, he saw his role increase over the year, and he ended the season as the second line center. That saw him finish with 21 points in the 29 games that marked the second half of the season, averaging over 2 shots per game while still not playing on their top PP unit. He was used more at even strength and on the penalty kill, and was one of the better play drivers and two-way players on a weaker team that missed the playoffs. Elite Prospects has very good things to say about his defense away from the puck, and while they’re more skeptical of the rest of his game they do note his strong second half. He seems like a potential late swing if you like to bet on his second half growth and greater room for future development given his late birthday.
Kenta Isogai is a 5’11” center born and raised in Japan, who played this year in the USHL. He’s 5’11” but just 154 lbs, but also has a later birthday (August 28). He only had 22 points in 59 games, but 15 of them were even strength primary points. He played as a middle six center, getting around 14-15 minutes per game. However, in spite of that and despite his low point totals, he rates out very, very well according to “process” stats that seem to indicate he should have had more points than he finished with. He was mostly doing the right things.
His team, Youngstown, finished middle of the pack in the USHL but was one of the lower scoring teams in the league. Isogai’s biggest strength is his skating, as he is already pretty explosive and is one of the fastest straight line skaters in the draft. He has good hands and a fair amount of skill, more than you’d see most seventh rounders have, but his issue seems to be executing higher skilled plays at speed. But I know that both Will Scouch and Elite Prospects have been touting him as sleepers worth a watch who might not even get drafted.
Zaccharya Wisdom is the younger brother of Zayde Wisdom, a good prospect in the OHL who was drafted by the Flyers. The two of them have quite the personal story given their poor background, which I profiled in Zayde’s draft profile two years ago. Zaccharya is not getting that much hype, and likely won’t be as good as his older brother, but there are signs that he still has something to offer as a late round swing.
One name people should be paying more attention to is @RidertownUSA's Zaccharya Wisdom. The #2022NHLDraft eligible's 5v5 offensive/transition numbers are among the best in the @USHL despite getting less then 10 mins of 5v5 ice per game. He also remains without an NCAA commitment. https://t.co/nvSLOHuwks pic.twitter.com/3UWXW5PT54— Puck Preps (@PuckPreps) February 21, 2022
Wisdom has a similar profile to Isogai. Wisdom is not as young but is a bit bigger than Isogai, but also has a pretty low point total that is affected by a low ice time (~13 minutes), no powerplay time, but most of his points are even strength and primary points. He also has very strong play driving numbers, with excellent transition ratings thanks to his skating and puck handling. He’s more filled out than Isogai and that does give him a more physical edge in junior, and plays more of a physical and aggressive forechecking style. The hope would be that you turn him into a two way grinding winger who has a bit of power forward to his game. Here’s a good example of the flashes of his power game — he’s #26 in white who scores the goal.
Samuel Savoie is a 5’10” forward playing for Gatineau in the QMJHL. He had 18 goals and 33 points in 64 games but only three of his points game on the power play. Gatineau was a stronger team, finishing 5th in the league thanks to the strength of their defense. Their leader in points only had 66 in 68 games. Savoie was used all over the lineup, sometimes center but mostly on the wing. He’d be moved between the third and first lines, averaging out to 15-16 minutes per game.
While his point production wasn’t great, the reason why he was moved all over the lineup is because he was used as a little spark plug for whatever line the coaches wanted to get going. He may only be listed as 5’10”, but also 190 lbs and he definitely plays more of a physical, grinding and power style than you might expect from a smaller guy. He throws hits, he is very effective on the cycle, but also has enough skill to drive excellent transition numbers and scoring chances — either with his shot creation, or passing to a teammate. He plays a smart, responsible two-way game where he seems greater than the sum of his parts skill-wise, but has enough skill to make you think he could turn into a bottom six winger. He gets some comparisons to the likes of Paul Byron with his profile of size, skills, and play style.
Servác Petrovský is a 5’10” center from Slovakia who played as an import for the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL this year. He finished third on the team in points and goals, with 28 goals and 26 assists in 65 games. Unlike most of the other players on this list, Petrovský had a good season points wise — he actually finished in the top five in the OHL for 2004-born players. Petrovský also had 11 points in 8 games for Slovakia on the international stage this year, and 5 points in 5 games at the Hlinka last summer.
On the other hand, he also was used more, getting around 19 minutes of ice time. He definitely seems like a Dubas-type player, as he is labeled as a ‘smart’ player in terms of how he uses his skill. It comes from positioning, anticipating play, and playing well without the puck. He rates out strongly as a defensive center despite his size, and has good transition numbers. There’s some concern his offensive skill may not quite be a high enough level to really carry him to the NHL, and while that can be worked on to some extent it’s more likely he’d make it as a bottom six two-way guy. But there’s enough skill where maaaaaaaaaaybe he has something to offer offensively as well.
Which of these forwards do you prefer the most as a 7th round pick?