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Brawndo

Scott Wheeler’s Top 50 Drafted Prospects Not in the NHL

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Cozens is Number 1 on his list. Nobody let @LGR4GM see who is Number 10. 

Under my criteria, for a player to be eligible for inclusion as a prospect, he must be:

  • Under 23 years old. We know that by a time a player turns 23, he is largely done the steep progression we typically see in prospects and/or has begun to plateau. A rare exception was made for Wild top prospect Kirill Kaprizov, who turned 23 a couple of months ago but hasn’t yet auditioned for an NHL club.
  • Not currently in the NHL, with rare exceptions for players who I believe could still bounce between levels and aren’t yet considered full-time NHLers by their teams. Though this is the only arbitrary section of the criteria, preference for exemption is always given to teenaged players, rather than 22-year-olds. This year, given the expanded nature of the NHL’s current rosters, emphasis for AHL prospects was also placed on the NHL role that player played in the final months of the season, whether or not that player played more games in the NHL than the AHL this season, and whether or not that player is likely to actually get into playoff action this summer.
  • Either signed to an NHL contract or selected in the entry draft, without either of those rights having expired.

This year, in an effort to better reflect the realities of a goalie evaluation, a top 10 goalie prospects ranking will accompany this piece tomorrow and exist independently of the skater ranking.

In all, 23 players featured in my 2019 ranking have since graduated under those criteria. They are: Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Cody Glass, Adam Fox, Filip Zadina, Dante Fabbro, Adam Boqvist, Nick Suzuki, Martin Necas, Kirby Dach, Noah Dobson, Henri Jokiharju, Jordan Kyrou, Joel Farabee, Emil Bemstrom, Alexandre Texier, Barrett Hayton, Rasmus Sandin, Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Dillon Dube.

For more information into my evaluation process and the things I look for and value in prospects, refer to my 2020 guide to scouting.


1. Dylan Cozens, C, 19 (Buffalo Sabres — 7th overall, 2019)

This one was agonizing because Cozens doesn’t have a star-level quality that some of the six players that follow him on this list do. I can see outcomes for each of the next half dozen names in my ranking where they go on to have a higher ceiling than Cozens. Other things, like that Cozens is going to have to play behind Jack Eichel (while Trevor Zegras and Cole Caufield have a more direct trajectory to the first line within their organizations) and may not reach his full ceiling as a result, can creep in and cloud your judgment if you let them, too. But I tried to remind myself that I’m less interested in what he isn’t than what he is — or that organizational circumstances shouldn’t play too pronounced a role in my evaluation of his skillset. With all of that in mind, I began to give Cozens the slight edge over his peers at the top because of his unique blend of straight line speed and puckhandling ability for his size, as well as his improved finishing touch. For every defining skill that some of the other players atop my ranking had, they often also had traits that could prevent them from maximizing those standout tools. Cozens had fewer holes, which made me ever so slightly more confident in his ability to reach the top of his projection.

 

 

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I already saw. There are I think, 5 late round guys I wanted on this list. But as I have been told multiple times, if my opinion on this mattered I would get paid. 

8, 10, 24, 39, and 44. 

Anyways, maybe the Sabres will do well this year in the draft and I won't have to repeatedly say how stupid one of their picks is. 

Edited by LGR4GM

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8 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

I already saw. There are I think, 5 late round guys I wanted on this list. But as I have been told multiple times, if my opinion on this mattered I would get paid. 

8, 10, 24, 39, and 44. 

Anyways, maybe the Sabres will do well this year in the draft and I won't have to repeatedly say how stupid one of their picks is. 

This is one of the best things about replacing Botterill. 

It's pretty disappointing we have zero other prospects on this list after Cozens. 

But, it's great to see Cozens at 1. He's gonna be a good one, this isn't a Middlingstat situation.

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2 hours ago, Thorny said:

This is one of the best things about replacing Botterill. 

It's pretty disappointing we have zero other prospects on this list after Cozens. 

But, it's great to see Cozens at 1. He's gonna be a good one, this isn't a Middlingstat situation.

This is an interesting read:

 

As is this:

 

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12 hours ago, Brawndo said:
  • Under 23 years old. We know that by a time a player turns 23, he is largely done the steep progression we typically see in prospects and/or has begun to plateau.

Tage will be 23 before he skates in his next pro hockey game. How does this make us feel

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4 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

Tage will be 23 before he skates in his next pro hockey game. How does this make us feel

It’s a definite possibility he can still find a place in this league but the expectation from us should be literally nothing. 

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59 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

Tage will be 23 before he skates in his next pro hockey game. How does this make us feel

Like you missed the part about the likelihood that Tage would have been a Sabre for a good chunk of games this season had he not been injured, and almost certainly would be starting the season as a 22-year-old Sabre this fall had there not been a pandemic.

Luke Kunin, Alex Nylander, and Sam Steel arrived as NHL regulars this year.

Dillon Dube, Max Jones, Henrik Borgstrom, Jordan Kyrou, Brett Howden: Are any of these guys further ahead in their development?

Mike McLeod, Logan Brown, Rasmus Asplund, Carl Grundstrom, Keiffer Bellows, Trent Frederic, Julien Gauthier...?

With the notable exception of Alex Debrincat, Tage's development stacks up well against his peers.

 

Edited by dudacek
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6 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Like you missed the part about the likelihood that Tage would have been a Sabre for a good chunk of games this season had he not been injured, and almost certainly would be starting the season as a 22-year-old Sabre this fall had there not been a pandemic.

Luke Kunin, Alex Nylander, and Sam Steel arrived as NHL regulars this year.

Dillon Dube, Max Jones, Henrik Borgstrom, Jordan Kyrou, Brett Howden: Are any of these guys further ahead in their development?

Mike McLeod, Logan Brown, Rasmus Asplund, Carl Grundstrom, Keiffer Bellows, Trent Frederic, Julien Gauthier...?

With the notable exception of Alex Debrincat, Tage's development stacks up well against his peers.

 

We only know Tage to be a bad NHLer. We don't know that about those peers

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Plenty of his peers will not have his processing speed issues, which are generally killer for prospects, even though those peers haven't "made it" as far along the curve as Tage has, if you can call Botts' handling of him as him making it

And so I'd take plenty of them over Tage even if they haven't made the chel yet

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4 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

We only know Tage to be a bad NHLer. We don't know that about those peers

No, we know Tage was a bad NHLer in 2018-19. We know the same about every one of those players I listed, save Debrincat.

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9 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

Plenty of his peers will not have his processing speed issues, which are generally killer for prospects, even though those peers haven't "made it" as far along the curve as Tage has, if you can call Botts' handling of him as him making it

And so I'd take plenty of them over Tage even if they haven't made the chel yet

Sure, but I was responding to your original question, which to me implied Tage is done because he is going to be 23 in five months.

Edited by dudacek

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@dudacek.  It's interesting that some of the same folks who gave Bailey and Baptiste the benefit of the doubt in the 2018-19 prospect list won't do the same now for Thompson and Mitts.  It must be blind hatred of Jbot, because both guys are better and more talented players then Baptiste and Bailey ever were.  

@Thorny it's a 50 player list from a 31 team league.  That's about 1.67 players per team.  Yes I'd like to see 3 or more, but his list is limited to drafted players and players with limited NHL experience.  These caveats eliminate three of our best under 23 year old players not in the NHL in Mitts (21), Thompson (22) and Routsalainen (22).  Mitts and Thompson would probably be on the list if not for being rushed to the NHL and getting 100+ plus games under their belts and Routsalainen was never drafted.  I guess Thompson is technically in the NHL since he was injured in his 1 game in the NHL this past season.

So while the list is worth reading, it isn't the bible on under 23 year old players not currently in the NHL.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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45 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

@dudacekIt's interesting that some of the same folks who gave Bailey and Baptiste the benefit of the doubt in the 2018-19 prospect list won't do the same now for Thompson and Mitts.  It must be blind hatred of Jbot, because both guys are better and more talented players then Baptiste and Bailey ever were.  

@Thorny it's a 50 player list from a 31 team league.  That's about 1.67 players per team.  Yes I'd like to see 3 or more, but his list is limited to drafted players and players with limited NHL experience.  These caveats eliminate three of our best under 23 year old players not in the NHL in Mitts (21), Thompson (22) and Routsalainen (22).  Mitts and Thompson would probably be on the list if not for being rushed to the NHL and getting 100+ plus games under their belts and Routsalainen was never drafted.  I guess Thompson is technically in the NHL since he was injured in his 1 game in the NHL this past season.

So while the list is worth reading, it isn't the bible on under 23 year old players not currently in the NHL.

Those players took jumps in the all important D+1 season, particularly Baptiste, who actually exploded. Mittelstadt sputtered (wJC!1! notwithstanding). It could change, their early trajectories followed better paths than Casey's has thus far. Performance relative to expectation can play a key part in the analysis and particularly the perception.

I don't think it's "blind hatred". People are going to become more gun-shy about giving the "benefit of the doubt" to these prospects as more time passes with failed development trajectories and poor team performance. 

- - - 

The stuff you directed at me, yes I was capable of understanding both the criteria of the list and I was even able to count up that it's a 31 team league, so ya, thanks. I'm glad you think the likes of Ruotsalainen and Thompson would be anywhere close to being found on a 50 man list if not for those caveats, I'm hoping that pans out for us. 

With the amount we've suffered in the standings over the last several years, even with a player like Dahlin already on the roster we should have more than 1 prospect on this list, we should be much higher in regards to prospects pool than well below average.

Edited by Thorny

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2 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Those players took jumps in the all important D+1 season, particularly Baptiste, who actually exploded. Mittelstadt sputtered. It could change, their early trajectories followed better paths than Casey's has thus far. 

Actually that isn't true.  While Baptiste and Bailey were nearly men among boys in the CHL.  Mitts actually acquitted himself well as an 18 year old playing against men in college.  He led his team in pts/gp as a true freshman.  He then jumped to the NHL scoring 5 pts in 6 games.  Thompson also had a very solid D+1 season in college with 19 goals and 32 pts in 34 games also leading his team in scoring.

However we aren't talking about D+1.  Bailey and Baptiste had 5 seasons under their belts post draft when I started the 2018-19 prospect thread @dudacek referenced and you and others were still defending them as legit future Sabres.  Mitts has had 3 seasons post draft seasons and Thompson 4 technically (but he lost nearly all of last season to injury).  Honestly the defense of TM's failed picks vs the hatred shown to Thompson and Mitts doesn't make much sense.  Both accepted demotion to the AHL with grace and played very well there and have earned some benefit of the doubt.  Thompson scored 12g and 21 ts in his 24 games back in the AHL and Mitts added 25 pts in 36 games after a slow start. 

  

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25 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Actually that isn't true.  While Baptiste and Bailey were nearly men among boys in the CHL.  Mitts actually acquitted himself well as an 18 year old playing against men in college.  He led his team in pts/gp as a true freshman.  He then jumped to the NHL scoring 5 pts in 6 games.  Thompson also had a very solid D+1 season in college with 19 goals and 32 pts in 34 games also leading his team in scoring.

However we aren't talking about D+1.  Bailey and Baptiste had 5 seasons under their belts post draft when I started the 2018-19 prospect thread @dudacek referenced and you and others were still defending them as legit future Sabres.  Mitts has had 3 seasons post draft seasons and Thompson 4 technically (but he lost nearly all of last season to injury).  Honestly the defense of TM's failed picks vs the hatred shown to Thompson and Mitts doesn't make much sense.  Both accepted demotion to the AHL with grace and played very well there and have earned some benefit of the doubt.  Thompson scored 12g and 21 ts in his 24 games back in the AHL and Mitts added 25 pts in 36 games after a slow start. 

  

Mittelstadt's nhl-e was bad in college (relative to expectation) and we all ignored it because he was hyped to be more. True freshman, sure, but not in the sense that Eichel was, being in his pre-draft year. Bold is literally meaningless.

Why when someone disagrees with you does it have to be "hatred"? Your opinion is so just and correct that anyone who disagrees is simply hating? Come on. 

Also, receipts on me saying Baptiste and Bailey were both legit, sure fire Sabres 2 years ago? Also, when did I say Mittelstadt couldn't be an NHLer? Didn't I say in this thread Thompson could still find a niche?

Please read my posts if you are going to respond to them. 

Edited by Thorny

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Here are the reactions to Baptiste being moved, which was in 2018. No one seems to think very highly of him as a future staple..

Edited by Thorny

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@thorny

I apologize for saying that you defended Baptiste and Bailey in 2018.  You didn't.  However others in the thread were still looking for them to make a jump even after 5 years in the organization.  

However, I didn't say you have shown hatred toward Mitts and Thompson, and maybe hatred was to strong a word.  However, the constant negativity directed towards those two by many here is really over the top.  

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9 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

@dudacek.  It's interesting that some of the same folks who gave Bailey and Baptiste the benefit of the doubt in the 2018-19 prospect list won't do the same now for Thompson and Mitts.  It must be blind hatred of Jbot, because both guys are better and more talented players then Baptiste and Bailey ever were.  

@Thorny it's a 50 player list from a 31 team league.  That's about 1.67 players per team.  Yes I'd like to see 3 or more, but his list is limited to drafted players and players with limited NHL experience.  These caveats eliminate three of our best under 23 year old players not in the NHL in Mitts (21), Thompson (22) and Routsalainen (22).  Mitts and Thompson would probably be on the list if not for being rushed to the NHL and getting 100+ plus games under their belts and Routsalainen was never drafted.  I guess Thompson is technically in the NHL since he was injured in his 1 game in the NHL this past season.

So while the list is worth reading, it isn't the bible on under 23 year old players not currently in the NHL.

Here's a thought. What if some of us (I don't even remember if I was one) gave BB the benefit of the doubt and learned from that mistake hence why we are more critical of Thompson and Mitts? 

Mitts and Thompson had some of the worst advanced stats in the league. Now Thompson at least didnt see NHL ice last year so we can only hope he learned and grew into his frame. Mitts... Mitts has major issues playing with the puck in traffic and playing away from the puck. I don't think a few AHL games fixed that. If they could, they should put him in the AHL for at least another year or send him to Europe if not. 

If Casey had stayed in college he might be on the list. Thompson I don't think would. But this isn't the land of if's, it is reality and they aren't on that list because the org screwed up and they both appear at this moment to be only 3rd line or worse NHL guys. 

Edited by LGR4GM

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Cozens, 1. And no one else. That's disappointing as we've been at the top of the 1st and 2nd round for a decade. Now, our top picks don't qualify as they've already made it to the NHL, but no one else is even on the radar.

In today's article UPL is ranked #8 of 10, and would be higher if not for the unimpressive midseason call-up to Rochester.

12 hours ago, dudacek said:

This is an interesting read:

I still want to post many a Petula Clark Downtown (Auf Deutsch) video links in our Game Day Threads! He did score 12 in rookie year... so... that was sorta good.

8 hours ago, Thorny said:

Here are the reactions to Baptiste being moved, which was in 2018. No one seems to think very highly of him as a future staple..

I liked his speed for us and thought he might do solidly in Nashville as a bottom 6. He hasn't gotten back to the NHL since. To this day he remains my #3 scoring Sabre All-Time when he retired in 2037 (in NHL2014). Yes, Baptiste outscored Perrault on a line with Eichel and an ever-rotating list of LWs because of the cap. I liked Dougherty coming back and... yeah... AHL trade.

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14 minutes ago, Drag0nDan said:

what ever happened to cliff pu?

He stinks.

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