Ben is a hockey nut and a recent university graduate. Like most post-uni grads he's unemployed and wants to make himself feel better by writing about something he loves. As always feel free to comment on his work if you agree or disagree - just be nice.
After an unexpected run that took the Flames to the second round before losing to one of the best team's this year, the Flames will be rewarded with a Top 15 pick. Merkley’s year has been full of ups and downs while he’s been on one of the best WHL teams that featured Leon Draisaitl and the winger finished the season with 20 goals and 70 apples for 90 points. Merkley had a solid playoff run finishing 3rd in playoff scoring with 27 points as his Kelowna Rockets won the WHL Championship and made it all the way to the Memorial Cup Final before losing to the Oshawa Generals.
Projection: Merkley projects out as a playmaking 2nd line C option that could allow Sam Bennett to adjust to the wing in the Flames system.
16. Edmonton Oilers (via Pittsburgh) – Thomas Chabot (Saint John Sea Dogs – QMJHL)
David Perron gets the Oilers a pick that is 11 spots higher than it was projected to be at the time of the trade made with Pittsburgh. The 16th pick isn’t too shabby and should be able to nab the Oilers a solid two-way defenceman who could potentially fill out a top 4 with youngsters Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom in the coming years.
Projection: Chabot looks like he could be a low-end top pairing d-man or a strong 2nd pair guy who can play in all situations. Has always improved immensely in each aspect of his game coaches have asked him too.
17. Winnipeg Jets – Colin White (USNDTP)
The Jets had a surprising playoff run and will have two first round picks to add to an incredible prospect pool that the team already has. White is a promising Boston College commit with the ability to play all 200 feet of the rink, but is especially strong in the offensive end which can be shown by his near goal per game pace at the most recent IIHF Under-18’s. White seems to be the type of player the Jets want at C playing a strong all-around game adding some physicality like Little, Scheifele and Lowry.
Projection: #2C that can play in all zones that could be an insulated, top line center. White is similar to strong #2 centers like Mike Fisher.
18. Ottawa Senators – Jakub Zboril (Saint John Sea Dogs – QMJHL)
The Senators go into the offseason with arguably too much young talent and not enough space so the Sens will take a player in need of some time for development. Zboril is a strong skating d-man that plays with smarts, but he needs to fill out his frame and work on his conditioning as this came into question a couple times this year.
Projection: Zboril is a low risk pick, but has a very high upside if he were able to continue to develop. Could be a top-4 d-man if he progresses.
19. Detroit Red Wings – Yevgeni Svechnikov (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles – QMJHL)
The first thing one notices watching Svechnikov is how fast he’s able to get his big 6’3” frame to full speed and how he’s able to use his hands at full speed. He also adds a great shot and some amazing playmakings skills. Like many young Russians his defensive game could be better, but his offensive game more than makes up for his occasional defensive shortcomings.
Projection: Svechnikov projects as a top-6 winger that will put up points, but might only play in one zone the whole night.
20. Minnesota Wild – Joel Eriksson-Ek (Farjestad – SHL)
The Wild got lucky and ran Devan Dubnyk hard and ended up a playoff team, but with a weak prospect pool the Wild can’t afford to make mistakes on picks this year. Eriksson-Ek is a fiery competitive player that uses his size to his advantage. This game plan was unable to work at the SHL level however it paid off at the U-18 and the J20 Swedish level. Eriksson-Ek also fits the Minnesota mold of hardworking defence.
Projection: A middle-6 winger that can be used in all situations while chipping in a few extra goals to help his team win.