Continuing with the trend for the past few days, Tuesday offers another set of two 2017 NHL Draft articles this time featuring insight on potential draftees from the Western Hockey League.
About the Scout/Writer
Marshall Mackinder (Twitter=@Mackinder1861) is a freelance journalist who joined the Hockey Now staff in November 2015 and brings a wealth of knowledge from a scouting standpoint in junior hockey, as well as 10 years in the sports marketing and advertising field. Since 2011, Mackinder, has been a Western Hockey League and British Columbia Hockey League scout for Red Line Report, an independent scouting newsletter that focuses solely on NHL Draft-eligible prospects.
Scouting the Western Hockey League for the Hurricanes 2017 NHL Draft
Canes and Coffee: Who do you see the Hurricanes taking at #12 overall?
Marshall Mackinder: Seeing as the Hurricanes have a need for offense and already have high-end defensemen, the team could use more of a speed and an offensive-minded forward to drive the net and create scoring chances. There are plenty of high-end offensive threats to pick from the CHL field of prospects. It would not surprise me to see the Hurricanes go with Mississauga winger Owen Tippett. One of the purest goal scorers available, Tippett is considered to have the best shot in the draft with a quick release, and he can and will shoot from anywhere below the blue line. The knock on Tippett is that he is a one dimensional-player, but I think he will figure it out as he matures. If he is still available, he seems like he could fill the role they crave.
(Owen Tippett Prospect Profile)
Another high-end offensive talent that could be available at #12 is Owen Sound attack sniper Nick Suzuki. He has a ton of offensive upside and has good puck control at top speed. He also possesses great hand eye coordination and has a knack for creating an opportunities out of nothing. Suzuki is one of the youngest draft eligible players and won’t turn 18 until two months after the draft.
(Nick Suzuki Prospect Profile)
Canes and Coffee: Which WHL player(s), if any, could be relevant at #12 in the first round? What are the pros and cons of each player?
It might be a stretch but if Tri-City Americans center Michael Rasmussen is still available, the Hurricanes should take him. He has the size, skill and smarts to fill out as an above average #1 center in the NHL. Known primarily as a power play specialist, he has above average speed for a kid his size and has leadership abilities, as he was recently named captain of the Tri-City Americans. It is alarming to see the comparison between his power play production vs. 5 on 5 play as he scored the majority of his points on the power play. Coming into the season, he was considered a playmaker but didn’t play like one this season becoming a 30 goal scorer while collecting only 23 assists. But he is still worth a look at #12 if still available. Rasmussen’s season ended early in February with a wrist injury.
(Michael Rasmussen Prospect Profile)
Rasmussen’s roommate in Tri-City Jusso Valimaki could also be a good pick at #12. He is a high-end offensive defenseman who is a real mobile skater who loves to join the rush and catch opposing defensemen off guard by carrying the puck deep in the offensive zone and creating scoring chances. Valimaki is also confident and hard-working in all three zones and has great offensive instincts and the ability to transition back to defense very quickly. He is not known as a flashy defenseman but displays patience and a calmness with the puck on his stick. He has the capability to create good scoring chances by carrying the puck on end to end rushes and making crisp tape-to-tape outlet passes. In addition, he always has his head up and is rarely out of position. Valimaki does not have an overpowering shot, but with some work, it can be developed.
Canes and Coffee: Which couple WHL players do you like in the second round which is currently scheduled to be a busy one for the Hurricanes who currently have three second-round selections?
Morgan Geekie – Center – Tri- City Americans — A re-entry into this year’s draft, he should have been drafted in 2016. He was among the WHL top 10 scoring leaders all season, and he also took control of the team in the absence of Michael Rasmussen. Geekie has a skill set comparable to Brandon Dubinsky.
Josh Brook – Defense – Moose Jaw Warriors — Brook is a very fluid skater who has an offensive touch to his game and likes to join the rush and be the 4th forward. He has the potential to turn into a very reliable two way defender like TJ Brodie.
Kole Lind -RW – Kelowna Rockets — Lind is a pure goal scorer who has a cannon of a shot and can snap off a wicked wrister. He calls himself a playmaker but could turn into a big time goal scorer if he adds lower body muscle. He will need time to develop just like Charlie Coyle did with a similar skill set.
Henri Jokiharju -Defense- Portland Winterhawks — Jokiharju is a smallish but highly-skilled puck moving defenseman and power play quarterback from the Portland Winterhawks. He was quiet at the start of the season but matured into a leader on a surging Portland team. He reminds me of Tomas Kaberle with size, skill and progression.
Nick Henry- RW – Regina Pats — Henry had an impressive rookie season and played primarily with Sam Steel. He is a very honest and hard-working winger who has the skills to be an important player in any NHL teams depth chart but still has another level to which he could take his game. He reminds me of a young Kris Versteeg during his Blackhawk days.
Canes and Coffee: Which couple WHL players do you like in the third round where the Hurricanes currently have two picks?
Jarret Tyszka – Defense – Seattle Thunderbirds — Tyszka is not flashy by any means but gets the job done and is as steady as Eddie on the back end. He is also an underrated penalty kill specialist and shot blocker and was a WHL Champion in 2017. His skill set is comparable to Andrej Sekera.
Ian Scott – Goalie – Prince Albert Raiders — Prince Albert had a very tough year but Scott stood tall and displayed his confidence by playing hard every night. He faced a ton of rubber this season and looks to be on his way to Mike Smith comparisons.
Jake Leschyshun – RW -Regina Pats — Leschyshun is a real energy guy with an explosive first step and great agility. He sustained a season-ending knee injury in February, but that shouldn’t hurt his status this summer. He is a good stick handler in tight spots and reminds many of a young Chris Kelly.
Jonathan Smart – Defense – Regina Pats — He is a terrific defender in his own end who was dealt from Kelowna to Regina mid-season. Smart is quick on loose pucks, but his weak upper body hurt him in the corners. Once he bulks up, he could be compared to John- Michael Liles as a young defenseman.
Canes and Coffee: Which 3-5 WHL players do you really like who might be available in middle to later rounds (rounds 4-7) of the 2017 NHL draft?
Austin Pratt – RW – Red Deer Rebels — Think of a much younger Jason Chimera and that’s who Pratt plays like. He is a big, strong winger who plays well in a checking role and keeps the engine running the whole game.
Sami Moilanen – RW – Seattle Thunderbirds — Moilanen is a short and stocky puck chaser. He is good down the wing and looks to drive to the net to create chances. A fearless player in front, he will take a beating to make a play. He was a WHL champion in 2017 and plays a similar style to Leo Komarov.
Ryan Peckford – C – Victoria Royals — He is not a fast skater but is an efficient skater who makes it look effortless. He is also a smart and effective player in all three zones. Had some injury problems but recovered nicely. He projects to be the next Trevor Lewis.
Will Warm – Defense – Edmonton Oil Kings — Warm is edgy, physical and intimidating on the blue line. He is considered a sleeper who gained a lot of attention during an abysmal year in Edmonton. He likes to shoot and keep the play alive down low and plays a lot like Adam McQuaid.
Canes and Coffee: Do you have any additional thoughts on the 2017 NHL draft as relates to the Hurricanes?
Marshall Mackinder: The Hurricanes addressed their need for goaltending by acquiring Scott Darling from Chicago early this spring and will look to stock up on offensive-minded forwards and depth on the blue line. The Canes have a history of looking to the CHL for drafting but have also gone the NCAA route to draft players, most recently Noah Hanifin (5th overall in 2015). I not only expect the Hurricanes to be active with seven projected draft picks in the first three rounds but also on the trade market looking to fill some voids with NHL ready players, possibly Matt Duchene or Brendan Smith.
See more 2017 NHL Draft player profiles by Marshall Mackinder at Hockey Now.
Canes and Coffee extends a huge thank you to Marshall Mackinder from Hockey Now for generously sharing his ‘from the rink’ insight on Western Hockey League draft prospects who could be part of the Carolina Hurricanes 2017 draft class!