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Photo Credit: Rena Laverty

Underrated names to know for the 2019 NHL Draft

The 2019 NHL Draft is starting to look average when compared to recent drafts. But there are some redeeming names to get excited about. Some of which have flown under-the-radar. Some of these names are well supported in different scouting circles but may not be household names yet for the casual hockey fan. Which is why I’ve decided to write this 6 months out from draft day. The Red Wings are in a rebuild, so any and every name that is eligible to be drafted should be considered. So throw your positional need BS out the window.

The sleepers that I’ll be discussing have really caught my eye over the last two years. Players who I deem to be better than what the industry is telling the public. A couple of them I even have rated as 1st round talent as of this writing. Some of these players could very well hear their named called by the Red Wings in June. Hell, when I did this same piece last year for the 2018 draft Jonatan Berggren was someone I felt the Wings should grab in the middle rounds. So you never know.

Forwards

Pavel Dorofeyev – Stalnye Lisy (MHL)

One way to crack the sleeper list is to have an elite trait. Pavel Dorofeyev possesses elite vision and playmaking-ability. He helps create offense for every player on the ice, and does it with such poise. He is calm with the puck on his stick and is always looking to make a play. What I love about him is his fearlessness. He’ll take a hit to make a play, he’ll cut to the slot and drive the net, he’ll get in the corners and go to work. It works for him because of his immense talent. Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about:

 

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Samuel Fagemo – Frolunda (SHL)

Fagemo went undrafted in last June’s draft. That won’t happen again. He has responded with a tremendous start for Frolunda in the SHL. At the moment he has 10 points in 21 SHL games, which is very impressive for a D+1 player. Hockey IQ is his standout trait. He’s able to make the smart play time and time again. More of a playmaker than goal scorer, he’s always using his smarts to find the open teammate.

Marcus Kallionkieli – Sioux City (USHL)

Kallionkieli is a Finnish winger who has a very large tool kit. He’s an excellent skater for his size, his hands are soft and work well in tight, and he owns a booming shot. He shot is deadly, be it from long range or around the net. He fights hard for loose pucks and fishes them out for his teammates. Playing along side the USHL’s leading scorer in Bobby Brink, Kallionkieli has flown under-the-radar. From what I’ve seen its Kallionkieli driving play for his line. The other elements of his game are so complete and makes him a very effective player in all facets of the game. Combined with his sneaky good skill, you have the makings for a hell of a player.

Philip Tomasino – Niagara (OHL)

Tomasino is a shifty forward with electrifying speed. He is dynamic with the puck on his stick and can generate offense in a multitude of ways. His one-on-one skills aren’t elite, but his skating makes him so difficult to contain. His excellent transition play is a testament to his play driving. He doesn’t have to rely on teammates to be effective. There is a lot of Brayden Point in him.

Travis Treloar – Chicago (USHL)

Treloar is the perfect kind of player to gamble on in the middle rounds. His offensive creativity is what stands out. He takes chances with the puck and has the ability to make a defender look silly one-on-one. At some instances he is to careless with the puck and relies on his hands too much, but at end of the day, tantalizing skill is hard to come by. The other elements of his game need to be rounded out, but you can’t ignore his eye-popping plays. Some examples below (he is number 19 in the first clip):

Defensemen

Billy Constantinou – Kingston (OHL)

If you are going to come away remembering one name from this list its this one. Constantinou is a puck rushing defensemen who is fearless. He carries the puck up the ice with such confidence and isn’t afraid to make a mistake. Now that is where one of his problems comes from. He can make mistakes that will make you rip your hair out, but the upside is undeniable. His combination of skating ability and flashy stick handling makes him extremely dangerous. He’s in the conversation for best defensemen in the draft on my board.

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Dominick Fensore – U.S. U18 (NTDP)

Many will roll their eyes when Fensore’s name is brought up as a legitimate prospect. Standing at a not-so-menacing 5’7″ on a good day, he has no where near the ideal size you look for in a defensemen. But I always come away impressed by the Boston University commit. He plays with tempo and pace and can be unpredictable with the puck. He has the awareness to find his teammates all over the ice. His shot is lacking and I do fear his ability to defend bigger players at the next level, but I like the offensive package he brings.

Lassi Thomson – Kelowna (WHL)

Thomson is another aggressive defensemen who is involved greatly in his teams offense. He moves the puck with powerful strides and looks to create zone entries on his own. He is very smart in finding the areas of the ice to make his offensive style work. His shot from the point is another weapon in his arsenal. You may be better serve to use him as a shooting option, rather than let him QB when your’re on the power-play. He is one of the more unique players in the draft.

Goaltenders

Cameron Rowe – U.S. U18 (NTDP)

Rowe is in the unfortunate position of being the backup behind arguably the best American goaltending prospect since John Gibson in Spencer Knight. Nevertheless, Rowe has game. He is technically sound and keeps everything routine. I’m very impressed by his lateral movement and ability to track the puck. I don’t trust him as a puck handler, he lacks confidence in that area, and his rebound control could be better. But everywhere else he shows reason to believe he could one day find himself in the NHL. It’s hard to say if he’ll become a number one netminder, but I’ve seen enough to say give him a chance and let him develop at North Dakota for a few years.

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Honorable Mentions

  • Leevi Aaltonen – Kalpa (Liiga)
  • Vladimir Alistrov – Edmonton (WHL)
  • John Beecher – U.S. U18 (NTDP)
  • Roman Bychkov – Yaroslavl (MHL)
  • Alexander Campbell – Victoria (BCHL)
  • Trevor Janicke – Central Illinois (USHL)
  • Kaden Korczak – Kelowna (WHL)
  • Michal Teply – Liberec (Czech)
  • Oleg Zaitsev – Red Deer (WHL)