For a description of the methodology in these rankings, including the Projected Peak and Statistical Comparables (courtesy of Iain Fyffe), please see the Introduction. We'll be revealing more of the Top 100 every few days leading up to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Full list of Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
16. Scott Mayfield, Defense, Youngstown-USHL
The best non-USNTDP defenseman to come out of the USHL this year comes in the form of the hulking Scott Mayfield. He's one of the toolsiest players in the entire draft and has upside that could land him on a team's first pairing, but he has a ways to go before he gets to that point. He skates at a pro level and at times touches above that, but for a 6'4", 200 lb. defenseman, his skating level is notably above-average. Mayfield can rush the puck up and stays with his checks well one-on-one and I've even seen a time where he skated the puck around the entire offensive zone, a feat you don't see normally from 6'4" defenders. His puck skills are decent, but again for his size he's notably coordinated, can handle the puck at top speeds moderately well and has a solid first pass. His low offensive counting statistics were victim of his poor team more so than his talent level. Mayfield's physical game is already above-average and projects as plus or better with a frame that still has some room to fill. At the Junior level, he towered over opposing forwards, won battles easily and didn't shy from stepping up into his checks, although he didn't throw his body around recklessly. His hockey sense is on and off, and strangely for a young prospect, it was his defensive game that is advanced and his offensive decisions that need work. Mayfield plays his assignments well one-on-one, closes gaps efficiently, and boxes out the front of the net well. However with the puck, he sometimes tries to do too much, be it rushing the puck up when he should make the safe play, trying an unnecessary stretch pass or holding onto the puck too long. If his offensive game takes the next step, Mayfield could possibly be one of the top defenseman prospects to come out of this draft class.
Projected Peak GVT: 1.4
Statistical Comparable: Jassen Cullimore
Ranking Explanation: It should be obvious after checking Mayfield's stat line and Projected Peak GVT that this ranking is tools-based rather than statistical. Mayfield is a tremendous physical package who doesn't really have weaknesses that drag his value down, but no major puck-possession skills that take him to the next tier. In comparing him to Jonas Brodin, Brodin blows him away in the possession game as he thinks the game at a very high level and moves the puck well. He's a tad better of a skater, but the difference between the two physically just took all those possession skills and the mobility edge and made it practically a draw. I gave Mayfield the edge just because in a close evaluation between the same position the fact he has a higher upside makes him more desirable. The Goals Versus Salary/value difference between a slightly above-average defender (Brodin's likely projection although he could top out as better) and Mayfield's possible ceiling is significant enough to push him over when you factor in the fact Mayfield doesn't have a ton of risk/weaknesses and only room to improve.
17. Jonas Brodin, Defense, Farjestad-SEL
In a class that boasts a prospect as high-end as Adam Larsson, Jonas Brodin is the smartest defenseman coming out of Sweden in this draft. Brodin is a true plus thinker on the ice, consistently making advanced reads on defense, and showing good poise with the puck and executing calm, quick breakouts. While he isn't a good stick-handler by any means, and if anything I'd grade that tool as a 40, his puck-moving skills are above-average. He consistently shows the ability to execute crisp, accurate passes and can execute well on lengthy attempts. Brodin also is a solid to above-average skater, with a great first step that can close on his assignments quickly. Brodin is very conservative in nature though in how he approaches the game. Despite the fact he has the speed to rush the puck up, he doesn't attempt to do so. In regards to his physical game, he isn't physical involved much although it isn't exactly never, but with a skinny frame and a need for strength, that tool at the moment grades as fringe. Brodin has never wowed in the counting statistics department and won't be a flashy offensive player, but is definitely a defender who can influence the possession game and log big minutes in all situations.
Projected Peak GVT: 5.8
Statistical Comparable: Henrik Tallinder
Ranking Explanation: Brodin may not be a well-rounded prospect or one who excited with impressive offensive tools, but his high-end combination of intelligence and puck-moving ability make him more than deserving of this ranking. In comparing Brodin to Bartschi, it was a defenseman who primarily got his value through the possession game and a forward who had a good all-around skill set minus the physical game. The possession games were about a pushBartschi is better with the puck, but Brodin's hockey IQ is a level higher than Bartschi's. They both skate at about an equivalent levelBartschi is slightly better, but due to how close most of their skills are, the difference in physical tools made an impact in the evaluation despite the fact that Brodin isn't particularly good in that area and Bartschi is well below-average. Bartschi's shot tool is impressive and that was a possible argument for him, but as discussed with Armia, I'm skeptical of a player's whose value is derived from mid-distance scoring, and since we're still dealing with above-average skill sets, the positional market gap still exists as well in a close debate.
18. Sven Bartschi, Left Wing, Portland-WHL
Sven Bartschi was one of this year's biggest risers with his performance for the WHL powerhouse Portland Winterhawks. He shows several desirable tools, especially in the finesse department. Sven is a solid skater who can get to full speed very quickly and while his top speed is good and he has turned around several WHL defenders, he doesn't consistently maintain an above-average level. His agility is good and he can really make people miss, be it from a standstill or while rushing the puck up the ice. Bartschi has very loose hands that allow him to make rapid moves with the puck and his while I grade his puck skills as above-average, he does flash ability beyond that. His wrist and slap shots are both desirable weapons, the latter of which flashes plus velocity and he can consistently score from beyond the crease area. His physical game is fringe but does show a notable work ethic along the walls but at the moment is nowhere near strong enough to be an effective physical pro. In regards to his hockey IQ, Sven is regularly trusted with PK duties due to his good anticipation, positioning and stick work. Offensively, he has good vision with the puck, although there are times he tries to go beyond his means with the stick-handling. The skill set is there for him to be a scoring forward with most tools being above-average or around that if he can overcome the physical hurdle which at this point is below fringe level.
Projected Peak GVT: 6.7
Statistical Comparable: Oleg Saprykin
Ranking Explanation: Bartschi is a forward who has displayed a lot of above-average tool , but unlike the other forwards towards the top of this list who I've said similar things about, the major difference is he has one major hole. In comparing him to Kucherov, they are actually pretty similar in terms of overall skill sets. Both players possess the puck at about the same level, skate at an above-average level, shoot well, have good intangibles, and are weak in the physical game. I had Bartschi as a small edge in a couple of categories over Kucherov and that ultimately is what decided it, as this was a pretty close matchup.
19. Nikita Kucherov, Left Wing, CSKA-MHL
Nikita Kucherov was the draft's best kept secret until the Under-18's, and those who've followed Kucherov over in Russia's Junior league have long known about the potential he has. He's an above-average skater, with good mechanics and quick, rapid strides. His puck skills grade as above-average as well, but not really in the stick-handling department as that aspect is barely average. Kucherov makes his play on the puck by the way of his passing skills, which sits comfortably as a 55 grade tool, but can flash 60. His finishing ability also grades as above-average. Kucherov has shown the ability to wrist goals from mid-distance, find and knock in loose pucks from close in and has a hard one-timer that he likes to unleash from the circles. His physical game at the moment is below fringe level, just because he's a short guy with a frame that is very thin and lacks strength, but his work ethic is good enough that when he grows, the tool can get to fringe. Kucherov frequently goes to the front of the net, at times spending entire power plays there, shows decent ability pressuring on the forecheck and will battle for the puck, but is easily overwhelmed by bigger players. He's a smart player who thinks the game at a solid to 55 grade level. His offensive smarts are seen in his patience and vision with the puck and anticipation of the play, and defensively he shows average ability, with the fact his combination of skating and work ethic let him fly up and down the ice help him stay on his check well. His intangibles are also quite notable and his coach noticed that, naming him the Captain of a team with plenty of 19, 20 and 21 year olds at the age of 17. Kucherov has the ability to play a plethora of roles, and once he bulks up, he's advanced enough to make the transition to the highest level pretty soon.
Projected Peak GVT: 8.9
Statistical Comparable: Andrei Kovalenko
Ranking Explanation: Just so I can get this out of the way, this high ranking is not because of Kucherov's statistical performance in a short-sample tournament at the Under-18's. I have been high on him for most of the draft season and that tournament was more reassurance than a mind-changer. His statistical performance in Russia over the last two years was of more importance, so much that the Projectionator actually had him as the seventh-best player in the entire draft class based on that data. His skill set is very good and while I'm not sure on the whole "Russian" situation, this ranking is talent-based and not taking into account signability based on the case by case factor. In regards to comparing Kucherov to Jaskin, I had Kucherov as a slightly better puck possessor, which is testament to the kind of skill set Jaskin has as well. Jaskin's main claim to go over Kucherov was the worlds apart they are physically, but when I account for the fact Kucherov is an above-average skater while Jaskin is about fringe grade and he's a better scorer that gap closed. The fact that Kucherov has a higher upside helped the decision as well in a close debate.
20. Dmitrij Jaskin, Right Wing, HC Slavia Praha-Czech Extraliga
Dmitrij Jaskin has gone under the radar this draft season due to playing in the Czech Republic all year and not making an international appearance until the Under-18's due to injury, but make no mistake that this is a prospect who should be on everybody's radars. Jaskin is a very well-rounded prospect and one who projects well down the line. Coming in over six feet tall and with a well filled out 200 pound frame, Jaskin's physical game projects as above-average and may even touch plus when he's physically matured. He brings it every shift and makes like hectic on opposing defenders with hard checks along the wall, planting himself firmly in front of the goalie's field of vision, and a solid puck protector who loves to stiff arm and drive the play to the net. He has solid puck skills that are above-average for a forward his size and while he isn't a flashy player, he is capable of doing pro-level stick-handling and he can come off the half-wall on the power play and distribute. Jaskin had a hard shot which he doesn't refrain from using and has multiple weapons in his wrist shot and slap shot. His hockey sense is solid as well, especially from a defensive perspective which is aided as well by the fact he shows a notable work ethic in his own end and on the backcheck. His only liability is his skating tool which grades as fringe to below-average, although there's nothing mechanically wrong that I've noticed and it does look fixable to an extent.
Projected Peak GVT: 4.0
Statistical Comparable: Milan Kraft
Ranking Explanation: Despite the fact he's ranked 20th, one should not be mistaken in how good a prospect I think Jaskin is. If it wasn't for his skating, he would have soared up these rankings as his skills are notably well-rounded beyond that one area and he's a great physical specimen. In comparing Jaskin to Rattie, I had Rattie's puck possession skills as only slightly better. While Rattie is a plus puck-handler and significantly better than Jaskin, I have Jaskin as a grade better than Rattie in hockey sense. Like in the Jaskin vs. Kucherov evaluation, this small gap in possession skill by widened by the gap in skating. However, the difference this time is the fact I have Rattie as a slightly worse skater than Kucherov and a worse goal-scorer. With that in mind, I have Jaskin as better in regards to skill set, and when I throw in his tremendous on-ice work ethic and intangibles, it makes the decision clear.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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