With the release of my final draft board on Thursday, today I will be addressing the players who didn’t make my list. In other words a do not draft list. I’ve evaluated over 300 players eligible for the 2019 NHL draft, but instead of rambling on all of them, I will discuss some of the names I gave mild consideration for a slot on my board. If the player was not in contention at one point or another this season, I will leave them off of this writing, however, if there is a player you are curious about that is not mentioned, feel free to ask in the comment section.
For some context, I put an emphasis on offensive skill that can translate to the NHL level. If the player lacks a certain element or has a glaring weakness, that factors in when determining if they make my do not draft list.
Note: I utilized the 20-80 scale for grading certain aspects of a players game. A score of 50 is considered average, 55 above average, 45 below average, etc.
Luke Bast, D, AJHL
Skating: 50 – Puck Skills: 50 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 40 – Physicality: 40
My initial viewings of Bast went well. I saw a smooth-skating, puck-mover with the ability to run a powerplay, who could make for a nice value selection late in the draft. The offensive style he plays is an attractive attribute in the type of players I like to target. After-all, if you’re swinging for upside, what could go wrong if it’s in the later rounds? The risk isn’t very high, so why not grab a project defensemen that isn’t just a write-off.
Well, as an evaluator I’ve come to learn how to weigh upside with actual play on the ice. Long-term, potential is what really matters. Some players don’t always shine on the ice despite having NHL projectable tools due to many factors, be it late bloomers, adjusting to the competition, etc. Bast, however, doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt playing for Brooks of the AJHL. The competition is sub-par at best and he never really put on a dominant performance in any of my viewings. His production doesn’t help him either, scoring 35 points (7 goals and 28 assists) in 45 games.
What that makes for is most likely an AHL level defensemen who will struggle to break through and earn a permanent spot on an NHL roster. I like his developmental path, heading to the University of North Dakota, but the end product I see is less than desirable, which is why he did not make my final draft board.
John Beecher, C, USNTDP
Skating: 55 – Puck Skills: 50 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 40 – Physicality: 55
Putting Beecher on this list isn’t easy. Back in September he was a player I thought could push for the first round. His long strides and agile movements combined with decent puck skills in a 6-foot-3, 203 lb frame is enticing. While speed is just average, his ability to protect the puck allow him to be an effective transition player. Beecher is also a strong defensive pivot, who back-checks hard and can play physical.
Yet, once he crosses the opponent’s blue-line he becomes lost. Beecher’s offensive IQ is just too poor to believe he’ll become a top-9 forward in the NHL. The Michigan commit’s vision and offensive zone play are just not NHL caliber. He’ll catch your eye with a rush down the ice but settle for low percentage shots rather than attack the net, utilize his hands to make a play, or hold on to the puck and search for teammates.
As good as the tools may be on Beecher, the offensive IQ is not there. He has fourth line center written all over him.
Mike Koster, D, USHS
Skating: 50 – Puck Skills: 50 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 40 – Physicality: 40
The first time I ever saw Koster play was at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in September and he really didn’t do much to peak my interest. I saw a small defensemen who was reluctant to make things happen, and was just too safe of a player for my liking.
I circled back to Koster when he was playing for Chaska in the Minnesota high school circuit and was completely blown away. In games that had featured standout winger Rhett Pitlick, Koster was the one to watch. He dominated from the back-end, creating several chances every shift. What stood out to me was how he was dictating play. He wasn’t just skating into open space and scoring on goaltenders who will never sniff pro hockey, but rather he was creating with his feet and hands. He went through people, showcasing some impressive wheels. He created his own space, and made his teammates better.
I was strongly considering Koster in my top-50 at one point. He was the best player I’ve seen in USHS hockey in a long time. Then came his 15 game stint in the USHL….
Playing for the top team in the Tri-City Strom, I was expecting Koster to mesh well. His play as a whole against better competition in the USHL was uninspiring. He looked like his former self — not pushing offense. That kind of inconsistency is a hard sell for a 5-foot-9 blue-liner. At the end of the day, it appears he is just another high scoring USHS player who can’t handle the speed and tighter checking of higher levels.
Dmitri Sheshin, RW, MHL
Skating: 45 – Puck Skills: 45 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 50 – Physicality: 50
Sheshin is a player who intrigued me in his draft-minus-one season because of his blue-collar work ethic and stingy forechecking. He is relentless in hunting down pucks and competes hard in battles. The competitiveness certainly stands out. Despite measuring in at 5-foot-7 he is fearless in his pursuit of pucks. Initially I felt there was something there as a player who would not be denied. Sheshin was a regular puck carrier who attempted to make plays. As time went on, however, it became clear he was not driving offense on his line when he moved away from Pavel Dorofeyev.
My final evaluation of Sheshin sees a player who lacks dynamic skill. Everything about his skill set is average at best. Hands are nothing special, skating is nothing special (although he does hustle hard), shot is…nothing special. As much as I can appreciate Sheshin’s approach to the game, I’d be lying if I said the abilities he has will translate to the NHL level.
Yegor Spiridonov, C, MHL
Skating: 45 – Puck Skills: 40 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 50 – Physicality: 55
Sheshin is joined by his line-mate Spiridonov on my do not draft list. These two combined to be one of the best pairings in the MHL. Spiridonov was the glue of his line, allowing his wingers to flourish due to the attention he would receive from the opposition. His stout two-way game allowed him to be a big time scoring threat in the Russian junior league.
Spiridonov is a big, strong pivot who excels in his own end. His puck protection skills are unmatched due to his size. While only standing at 6-foot-2 he plays like a behemoth on the ice. The problem, however, is the fact that he lacks dynamic skills. He doesn’t have any standout ability to believe he will be a top-9 forward in the NHL, a similar critique I have for Sheshin. No doubt, though, he has potential to be a monster defensive center in a fourth line role and because of that I’d imagine he gets drafted pretty high.
Lassi Thomson, D, WHL
Skating: 55 – Puck Skills: 50 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 35 – Physicality: 45
Thomson was once a player I loved due to his dynamic offensive ability, which saw high-flying rushes down ice and rockets from the point. In fact, I even listed him as an underrated name to know back in December.
Alas, as the season kept progressing Thomson’s true colors were shown. He has proven to be one of the worst defensive players in this draft. He is a turnover machine, who is unable to combat even the slightest of pressure. When I say it is bad I mean it is BAD. He can single-handily lose a team games. Many of my viewings left me fearful to even consider him with a draft pick. The problem isn’t so much that he isn’t committed to playing defense, but more so his decision-making and lack of poise. I don’t trust his ability to play against pace, which is a major key when it comes to defending at the highest level. I worry the NHL will be too fast for him to process.
I went back and clipped some of the things I was seeing from him in the defensive zone that concerned me. This is just from one game, but the weak defensive play has been a recurring issue. Thomson is #2 in white. pic.twitter.com/yStYMsP1Gl
— Cameron (@AthanasiouLater) February 24, 2019
What you’d be getting here is a massive project defensemen who would need serious time developing in the minors. Not only to refine and mature his game, but to also earn the trust of his coaches. He is one of those players who will often end up in a head coach’s doghouse, and frankly, for good reason.
Alex Vlasic, D, USNTDP
Skating: 50 – Puck Skills: 40 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 50 – Physicality: 55
Vlasic is a player who I’ve always recognized as a defender built for the NHL. A towering 6-foot-6 blue-liner, Vlasic is mobile and can move the puck just fine. Turnovers are a rarity from the Wilmette, IL, native. He is strong and physical and just a complete beast in his own end.
But I can’t speak as highly for the offensive side of his game. As a stay-at-home defensemen, jumping into the rush isn’t his forte. Aside from the occasional good read and pinch in the offensive zone, he lacks the playmaking ability to make up for his lack of involvement in transition. Vlasic’s marginal offensive impact doesn’t bode well in translating to the NHL level. While he’ll ultimately carve out a pro career, borderline top-6 upside is not worth a draft pick on my board.
Some other notable names that didn’t make my board:
- Ilya Altybarmakyan
- Adam Beckman
- Lynden Breen
- Ben Brinkman
- Arvid Costmar
- Matthew Davis
- Arseni Gritsyuk
- Matvei Guskov
- Owen Lindmark
- Patrick Moynihan
- Michal Mrazik
- Sasha Mutala
- Josh Nodler
- Nicholas Porco
- Massimo Rizzo
- Elmer Soderblom