2019 NHL Draft

2019 NHL Mock Draft 1.0 (Round 2)

Steve Kournianos  |  11/25/2018 |  Nashville  |  

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Tappara winger Patrik Puistola is a slick goal scorer who this season is the most productive 17 year old in Finland’s second division.


Round 2 (Picks 32-62)
Draft order based on 11/23/18 standings

Los Angeles Kings Pos. Team League
32. Tobias Bjornfot LHD Djugarden J20 Superelit
20gp-3g-6a-9pts | 6’0, 202 | 4/6/01
An excellent skater with or without the puck, Bjornfot is a versatile defender who can contribute in all situations. He can run a power play by using quick thinking and staying in motion, and he owns a heavy shot with a massive backswing. Bjornfot isn’t all that creative or one to be classified as a playmaker, but he generates offense with his wheels and quick-strike mentality — several times a game he catches opponents in a line change by whipping turnaround passes up ice. He’s an excellent 1-on-1 defender who sticks to puck carriers like Velcro and makes the right reads if he sees a dangerous play developing. The Kings need more players who are quick and smart, and Bjornfot is one of the handful of draft-eligible defenders who is both.
Ottawa Senators (SJS via FLA) Pos. Team League
33. Jakob Pelletier LW Moncton QMJHL
25gp-16g-21a-37pts | 5’9, 161 | 3/7/01
A slick playmaker with very good speed and balance who displays acute awareness of his surroundings, Pelletier is the kind of player that makes you wake up real early in the morning to try and figure out a way to slow him down. He can beat opponents in a variety of ways and being a puck magnet with intensity helps Pelletier wear down defenders of any size. He rarely is far from the puck, and panic is a word you’ll never associate with this cat — Pelletier is incredibly crafty in tight spaces and has a level of grit that keeps him stubborn during lengthy puck battles. A two-way forward who excels on special teams, Pelletier owns a hard, accurate shot and is comfortable firing it off the pass without hesitation.
St. Louis Blues Pos. Team League
34. Lassi Thomson RHD Kelowna WHL
26gp-7g-12a-19pt | 6’0, 188 | 9/24/00
Smooth-skating Finnish rearguard who typifies what offensive defensemen are expected to do with the puck on their stick and a full sheet of ice before them. Thomson may be a bit of a risk taker with an occasional sloppy pass, but the common end result is that pressure is applied on opposing schemes designed to slow his down. He loves to initiate breakouts with his wheels and drive deep into the offensive zone, but his pass accuracy to teammates in stride also stretches out the neutral zone and allows friendly puck carriers to gain time and space. Thomson quarterbacks the top power play unit and is a shooting threat thanks to a hard and accurate shot, but he also keeps his feet moving and will jump into openings below the circles. There are moments where he’ll fight for positioning and play physical, but those instances are few and far between. A lack of consistency in his slot/crease coverage is something that should be improved upon for the future.
Arizona Coyotes Pos. Team League
35. Leevi Aaltonen LW Kalpa Liiga
6gp-0g-1a-1pt | 59, 177 | 1/24/01
Aaltonen is one of the fastest skaters among 2019 draft hopefuls, but there were times when he looked comfortable on the outside and lacked intensity beyond having the puck in open ice. Somebody must have spoken to him about it, however, because his play the last month has been more than inspiring. Although seeing limited minutes for Kalpa in Finland’s elite Liiga, Aaltonen is starting to dig deep in trench battles and fight for positioning. Sure, he’s not the biggest kid on the block (5’9, 177), but his compete level has increased, and you see him spending more time below his own circles in support of his defensemen. The stats don’t always tell the whole story, so it’s important to identify a youngster with the reputation as a finesse player fine-tune his game in other important areas.
Ottawa Senators Pos. Team League
36. Nikita Alexandrov C Charlottetown QMJHL
24gp-13g-13a-26pts | 6’0, 179 | 9/16/00
A disappointing start is all but a distant memory for this hard-shooting import, who has looked quite comfortable slotted as Charlottetown’s second-line center. Alexandrov came into the season with the reputation of a shoot-first, ask-later kind of center. But he’s starting to incorporate his linemates into the attack by taking advantage of the respect and space opponents tend to afford him. The kid still loves to shoot the puck and can finish at the net in an assortment of ways. But his speed and playmaking have improved to the point where he can be considered talented enough to develop into a legitimate top-six player at higher levels. Alexandrov makes pretty one-touch and no-look plays but he can stand to work on his compete level and win more faceoffs.
New Jersey Devils Pos. Team League
37. Valentin Nussbaumer C Shawinigan QMJHL
25gp-6g-10a-16pts | 5’11, 167 | 9/25/00
Competitive Swiss import who plays a similar 200-foot game to 2017 top pick Nico Hischier but is a notch or two below in terms of puck skills and hockey sense. Nussbaumer has the misfortune of playing for one of the QMJHL’s worst teams in Shawinigan, so the stats are skewed by the fact that the Cataractes rarely have the puck at all, let alone in the offensive zone. Nonetheless, Nussbaumber is a strong, agile skater with inside moves and the ability to stickhandle his way into a clean zone entry, He has very soft hands to corral tough passes, and he owns an excellent shot that is tough for goalies to handle cleanly. He likes to battle in the corners and will motor all over the ice to either provide puck support or backcheck against a counterattack. Nussbaumer’s on-ice demeanor is professional and you would never guess that he played for a bad team that constantly battles against crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Pittsburgh Penguins Pos. Team League
38. Billy Constantinou RHD Kingston OHL
24gp-4g-11a-15pts | 6’0, 185 | 3/25/01
A fantastic skater who can play the role of a rover, Constantinou is one of the more graceful teenage defensemen you’ll find for this year’s draft. An artist with the puck, Constantinou is a big gambler but appears eager to learn and improve his play in his own end. A recent trade from Niagara to Kingston should help him in the exposure department. The question, however, is whether or not the added roles and responsibilities on a bottom-dweller like the Frontenacs will spotlight his warts on defense. Constantinou’s skating is his strength, as he picks up attack speed in two or three steps and can change gears while effortlessly maintaining puck control. He spins or pivots off of forecheckers with ease and keeps his head up as he evades back pressure. Constantinou loves to join the attack and is confident to take the puck deep into the offensive zone and around the net. His puck management is average and he’s prone to turnovers, but he understands the importance of owning the low slot and also stands up at his line to break up plays.
Chicago Blackhawks Pos. Team League
39. John Farinacci C Dexter HS-MA
5’11, 185 | 2/14/01
A poised, cerebral playmaker with excellent vision and strong hockey sense, Farinacci is a New Jersey native headed to Harvard in the fall. He’s an outstanding stickhandler through neutral zone traffic, but he’s also capable of speeding his way into open ice and making high-percentage plays. Farinacci was Team USA’s top-line center and power-play facilitator at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, and being an alternate add for the NTDP makes him used to the spotlight. He handles pressure extremely well and is counted on to take (and win) big faceoffs or match up against opposing top lines. Farinacci is a very good penalty killer who keeps his stick active and seems confident in making risky reads that break up cross-point passes. His straight-line speed is above average but he’s shifty and quick in tight spaces, and is proficient at snapping off quick, accurate shots through traffic.
Detroit Red Wings Pos. Team League
40. Thomas Harley LHD Mississauga OHL
25gp-4g-16a-20pts | 6’3, 188 | 8/19/01
A cool-as-a-cucumber puck distributor with a smooth skating style and strong hockey sense, Harley has earned his role as a top-pairing defender to help exploit the strengths of the Steelheads’ many talented forwards. The first thing you notice about his game is his composure with the puck — Harley rarely gets rattled and appears very confident while distributing the puck in all directions. His vision and pass accuracy are both advanced for a teenager, and he doesn’t hesitate with his decisions. Harley is an upright skater who uses quick bursts and sharp pivots to buy himself time and space and attack deep into the opposing zone. He also is a fine backskater with very good closing speed, and he displays solid edgework when he is forced to take the puck around his net. Harley can run a power play and owns a very hard shot, but he is not very active during the man-advantage, which could be explained by the experienced forwards he shares the ice with. His play on defense comes across as nonchalant, as he affords puck carriers too much room at his line and doesn’t play physical enough for a draft eligible on a top pairing.
Philadelphia Flyers Pos. Team League
41. Nolan Foote LW Kelowna WHL
24gp-15g-8a-23pts | 6’4, 190 | 11/29/00
One of the top power forwards available for the 2019 draft, Foote is a highly-intelligent forward who offers a blend of power, smarts and finesse. While most bigger wingers try to mash and bash their way to a scoring opportunity, Foote usually opts to use the thinking-man’s approach by correctly predicting puck travel and identifying the path of least resistance. That being said, he’s as strong as an ox and can control the puck for lengthy periods of time, and will use brute force to separate opponents of any size when necessary. Foote is an excellent cross-ice passer and can cleanly play catch with his point men during the power play. His skating style naturally looks lumbering, but he’s deceptively fast and agile in open ice, and he uses quick footwork in tight spaces to get a cleaner look at the net. You have to respect the fact that Foote opts for smart positioning over the more-favorable big hit, which is exactly how his brother (and 2017 Tampa first-round pick) Nolan plays on defense.  He likes to shoot the puck from the circles, but he’s at his best being a net-front presence in search of deflections and rebound chances.
Vancouver Canucks Pos. Team League
42. Josh Williams C Medicine Hat WHL
26gp-5g-10a-15pts | 6’1, 194 | 3/8/01
A high-energy forward who plays with bite, Williams was a standout for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He combines agility, above-average speed and balance to form an impressive skating package in addition to possessing a nose for the net. Williams plays with passion and a controlled intensity that is evident the second he hits the ice, and he consistently fights through checks to get himself in a position to score. He missed a good chunk of last season with a collarbone injury, which has not impacted his in-your-face style of play. His first month of this season was dreadful from a scoring perspective (0 goals in first 14 games), but he was able to contribute in other areas and is now being rewarded on the score sheet. Williams owns a hard wrister that he needs to use more often, and is a sound option for one-timers on the power play.
Edmonton Oilers Pos. Team League
43. Albin Grewe RW Djugardens SHL
12gp-0g-2a-2pts | 5’11, 187 | 3/22/01
There are two types of “dirty” players — the one who breaks every rule in the book and the other being a hard-nosed, lunchpail type who does a lot of heavy lifting for his coach. Grewe is most certainly the latter, and if he played baseball, he would have his pockets full of infield dirt by the second inning. Grewe is a strong skater with excellent balance who takes the puck inside with authority and confidence. He is a two-way forward of the throwback variety because he applies relentless pressure on the forcecheck, will finish his checks on defensemen, and he’s next to impossible to knock off the puck once he collects it off the turnover his pressure created. Grewe is shifty and quick with a strong lower body and leg drive that helps him knock down bigger opponents. He’s one of the draft’s best penalty killers, but his two-way play and effort should not be considered his way of compensating for a lack of puck skills — Grewe is an open-ice threat with keen vision and quick release on his shot. He is one of the few kids in this draft who is willing to pay any price for going into the rink’s most dangerous areas.
Vegas Golden Knights Pos. Team League
44. Maxim Cajkovic RW Saint John QMJHL
24gp-5g-10a-15pts | 5’11, 185 | 1/3/01
The first overall pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Cajkovic is a dangerous offensive weapon who like Valentin Nussbaumer has found difficulty in carrying the offensive load of a talent-strapped team. Cajkovic transferred to the QMJHL from Malmo in Sweden’s Superelit, where last season he was as dominant as a 17-year-old player could be. He owns a soft set of hands and can shoot the puck with authority from any type of shooting or body position. Cajkovic’s a crafty player in odd-man situations and will make sharp directional changes while traveling at top speed. He can wear the playmaker hat thanks to his vision and ability to fake opponents out of position, but he clearly loves to shoot the puck and would likely put up more impressive numbers had he been given a decent supporting cast.
Detroit Red Wings Pos. Team League
45. Marcel Barinka C/W Halifax QMJHL
24gp-6g-7a-13pts | 6’0, 166 | 3/23/01
Barinka joins the list of several recent CHL imports who possess a lot of skill but found success after tailoring their game to suit the North American style of play. He is a 200-foot contributor who plays unselfish hockey and excels is close-quarter battles, but he too can carve up an opponent with slick passes and sound decisions in open ice. He isn’t very physical, but Barinka stays close to the puck and will take a hit in order to move it. He’s an effective forechecker and comes in handy as a contributor on one of the top two lines, but there is potential for more creativity and point production once his role is expanded. Barinka, who can play center or wing, can score goals in a manner of ways and owns a hard, accurate shot with little backswing. His straight-line speed is above average, but he turns and pivots quickly and can stay on his feet when bumped during zone entries.
Carolina Hurricanes Pos. Team League
46. Bobby Brink RW Sioux City USHL
19gp-15g-18a-33pts | 5’8, 159 | 7/8/01
An electrifying talent with a high IQ, Brink’s dominance of the USHL as 17-year-old draft eligible has been one of the more impressive stories as we near the midway point of the season. Blessed with quickness and an explosive first step, the Minnesota native makes plays look easy regardless of the degree of difficulty. There’s simply no way to prepare for him as he darts towards the net, and his small stature doesn’t prevent him from taking the puck to the cage with authority. Brink’s hands from in close are sick, and he can roof shots from the lip of the goal mouth on either forehand or backhand. He also owns one heck of a wrist shot and can score from distances beyond the hash marks. A University of Denver recruit, Brink keeps his head up at all times, and his ability to lure opponents out of passing or shooting lanes makes him an ideal option to run a power play from the half-wall or point.
Anaheim Ducks Pos. Team League
47. Robert Mastrosimone LW Chicago USHL
15gp-11g-5a-16pts | 5’10, 158 | 1/24/01
A goal-scoring winger with one of the top shots among draft prospects, Mastrosimone is a line-driving puck hound with outstanding anticipation and an acute understanding of play development. He makes others around him more dangerous because his speed and shot, and his overall presence on the ice keeps opponents fixated on him. Bound for Boston University and a native of Long Island, Mastrosimone is an inside player with excellent balance and agility to maintain control of the puck through a dense network of sticks, bodies and skates. His office during the power play can be found in either circle, and Mastrosimone is very partial to his hard, accurate one-timer. He loves to play physical and will look to deliver a big hit in open ice. He also kills penalties and is reliable enough to put on the ice in late-game scenarios. Unlimited potential and a sleeper for the first round of the draft.
New York Rangers Pos. Team League
48. Patrik Puistola RW LeKi Mestis
12gp-7g-4a-11pts | 6’0, 174 | 1/11/01
A tricky winger with the puck on a string and a loaded arsenal of ways to beat you, Puistola is one of those rare pre-draft prospects that prove they are too good for both the junior leagues and the adult-age second tiers throughout Europe. He’s a dangler who can create his own shot (and a fine, accurate shot it is). Puistola is a very good skater and is to be considered a breakaway threat, but it’s his agility and escapability in the neutral that separate him from atypical draft-eligible goal scorers. Puistola is a smart kid who is used in any situation, to include the penalty kill, where he is an obvious threat to score. There isn’t much an opposing coach can do to slow down his scoring chances, but Puistola ups the ante late in games by becoming a playmaker and rocking defenders to sleep with pump fakes and slap passes. He hustles and works hard but lacks in the physicality department; something NHL coaches are good at addressing.
Dallas Stars Pos. Team League
49. Henry Thrun LHD U.S. U18 NTDP
22gp-4g-11a-15pts | 6’2, 190 | 3/12/01
A reliable two-way puck mover, Thrun checks a lot of boxes when it comes to identifying mature, poised defenders with legitimate NHL upside. The size and mobility usually make the choice a lot easier, but Thrun is a thinking-man’s defenseman who impacts the game with timely, critical plays. For starters, he’s an excellent breakout passer, capable of splitting the neutral zone with tape-to-tape passes that catch forwards in stride. He’s more of a passer than a fire-and-forget slinger, but take into consideration that he plays with an incredibly talented, borderline historic group of NTDP forwards. Thrun, who is committed to Harvard, throws his weight around and is excellent at finishing his checks to the point of separation, and he fights with dedication for the smallest of spots in the low slot. He keeps a very tight gap with proper stick placement, and even the quickest of forwards get fixed into the corner boards.
Winnipeg Jets Pos. Team League
50. Oleg Zaitsev C Red Deer WHL
21gp-5g-14a-19pts | 6’1, 186 | 1/7/01
A powerful yet elusive two-way center who competes hard in all three zones but also drives possession, Zaitsev’s transition from Russia to Western Canada has been relatively seamless. Not only has he produced points, but he has proven to be just as effective a penalty killer and matchup option in the WHL as he was last year in Russia’s MHL. He supports his defensemen anywhere below the circles and makes subtle plays in tight spaces to kick start the transition from defense to offense. Zaitsev can be a load to handle, especially along the wall, and his footwork and agility are excellent. One example of the way he thinks the game at a high level is the rapidity and accuracy of his passes on the fly, as he quickly identifies the linemate with the greatest chance of entering the zone cleanly. He’s more of a pass-first set-up man than a scorer, but he likes to occupy the dirty areas and is effective at creating traffic in front of the net.
Montreal Canadiens Pos. Team League
51. Hunter Jones G Peterborough OHL
2.71 GAA, .922 Sv.% | 6’4, 196 | 9/22/00
A big, athletic butterfly netminder, Jones is having an excellent draft season for Peterborough despite seeing a ton of rubber and playing behind a porous defense. He leads all OHL goalies in minutes, shots and saves, and his .922 save percentage is good for fourth in the league. Jones has outstanding reflexes and reacts quickly to cover the far corners, and his razor-sharp focus helps him not only track pucks, but also anticipate weak-side threats. His positioning in both the VH and reverse-VH for such a young goalie is close to impeccable, and you can count on Jones to stop the significant majority of shots he sees — if he gets beat from the circles, count on it being the best shot a shooter can make. Knowing he’s going to get pelted on a nightly basis keeps him sharp from whistle to whistle, and his cat-like quickness makes his post-save recovery look as sharp as his initial set. Jones rarely ventures outside the crease to challenge shooters. His rebound control for medium-danger shots is outstanding, and he keeps rebounds from high-danger chances within stick reach.
Washington Capitals Pos. Team League
52. Mikko Kokkonen LHD Jukurit Liiga
22gp-1g-9a-10pts | 5’11, 198 | 1/18/01
A highly-regarded prospect for quite some time, Kokkonen has provided steady blue line coverage for Jukurit while pitching in with timely rushes and poised play under pressure. He’s a very good skater who plays with his head on a swivel to help him react quickly to changes in puck travel, and his decisions to join the rush are generally timely and decisive. Kokkonen is not a flashy player, but he possesses a clear understanding of his role within different game situations and can dictate the pace of his shifts on his own terms. He can take the puck end to end but only if he’s afforded room beyond the red line, and the timing of his reads and pinches is advanced for a teenage defender. Kokkonen has an above average shot that he uses more for rebound chances than putting one through the twine, but you’d still like to see him shoot more. He has a strong lower body and can dig in for turf battles in front of his net, but he isn’t overly physical or intimidating to the point where opponents avoid his side of the ice.
New York Islanders (CGY) Pos. Team League
53. Massimo Rizzo C Penticton BCHL
12gp-3g-11a-14pt | 5’10, 181 | 6/13/01
A flashy scorer who likes to model his game after Mathew Barzal and Patrick Kane, Rizzo is the captain for Penticton, which last year won the BCHL championship and has a history of producing quality NHL prospects. Rizzo is a North Dakota recruit who suffered an upper-body injury in the offseason after missing time last year as well. When healthy, he’s an outstanding one-man force and set-up man with intelligence and vision. Rizzo is an excellent skater who effortlessly maneuvers and stickhandles around a clogged neutral zone, and he uses his agility, edges and quick feet to buy time and space and elude pesky opponents. Rizzo can make any winger into a scoring threat and is as dangerous on his backhand as he is on the forehand, but his soft hands and finishing abilities tend to confuse opposing goalies.
Colorado Avalanche Pos. Team League
54. Connor McMichael C London OHL
24gp-14g-9a-23pts | 5’11, 172 | 1/26/01
McMichael is an intelligent two-way puck magnet who serves a dual-threat inside the offensive zone thanks to his outstanding vision and knack for creating turnovers that lead to quality scoring chances. Hamilton made him the 11th overall pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection and was the centerpiece in the trade that brought Robert Thomas over from London. The stats may say he has been more of a finisher this season than a playmaker, but his ability to turn seemingly harmless possessions in the offensive zone into high-danger opportunities is something that keeps opponents honest. McMichael has great hands and roofs the puck from in tight, and he can pick the corners with his wrister. He makes a lot of touch, backdoor or no-look passes, and his jukes and gear shifting while keeping his head up is similar to a point guard crossing over a weak-ankled defender. There’s a lot of Marc Savard to his game, and he likely puts up bigger numbers once his role is expanded.
Boston Bruins Pos. Team League
55. Marcus Kallionkieli LW Sioux City USHL
16gp-12g-8a-18pts | 6’2, 192 | 3/20/01
Kallionkielli is the latest Finnish sniper to join the Musketeers, and he has more than lived up to the expectations set before him by NHL draftees Eeli Tolvanen and Sampo Rantaa. Kallionkielli is a lightning-quick sniper with a blistering shot who has teamed up with Calgary Flames’ prospect Martin Pospisil and fellow 2019 draft eligible Bobby Brink to form the USHL’s most dangerous line. He is a threat to score from anywhere inside the offensive zone, and the way he challenges the points in his own end lead to a lot of odd-man rushes and breakaways. From a purely offensive standpoint, Kallionkieli is an elite winger with a tremendous amount of potential. He needs to be recognized for being a dominant player in both the Finnish junior leagues and on the USHL’s smaller sheets, and his desire to play physical seems to have increased since he debuted in September. Kallionkielli is a shark on the power play and demands the puck for one-timers, but he also makes neat cross-ice passes to trap opponents trying to neutralize his world-class shot. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s selected in the first round.
Toronto Maple Leafs Pos. Team League
56. Kaeden Korczak RHD Kelowna WHL
26gp-2g-12a-14pts | 6’3, 192 | 1/29/01
Simply put, Korczak is a mobile, physical blueliner who is in the running for best one-on-one defender in his draft class. He plays a textbook style without the puck, focusing on making the proper reads and putting himself in the best position to neutralize an opposing puck carrier before he enters the zone. Kelowna’s been dubbed “The Defenseman Factory”, and it is a player like Korczak who can solidify its reputation for producing NHL-ready talent. He plays on the top pairing and anchors the lead penalty killing unit, and he usually is the player summoned when there is a critical draw or matchup in a close game. Korczak is extremely intelligent and makes sound decisions with his step-ups, pinches and slot releases. You rarely find him chasing an opponent behind the net or wandering away from his slot duties, and even the quicker forwards in the Dub end up getting a one-arm shove right into the corner boards. Korczak reacts quickly to loose pucks and crisply dishes them to cutting or streaking teammates. He’s not a playmaker or creative once he crosses center, but his hard shot and quick release help him accumulate assists from tip-ins and rebounds.
Minnesota Wild Pos. Team League
57. Simon Holmstrom LW HV71 J20 Superelit
7gp-4g-2a-6pts | 6’0, 183 | 5/24/01
A speedy winger with excellent vision and puck skills, Holmstrom dealt with an injury that limited his early-season availability. He has the potential to do a lot of damage any time he hits the ice and is comfortable making plays in tight spaces. Holmstrom, however, spends a lot of time on the periphery and waits for things to happen rather than have a say in where the puck winds up. The good news is that he is sound positionally and can turn a loose puck into a scoring chance in the blink of an eye. Holmstrom is a power-play specialist who has an excellent shot and can roof home backhanders from in tight, and his shot prowess prevents opponents from committing to the passing lane. He knows this, and it presents him the perfect opportunity to bring his passing skills to bear. His overall skating is slightly above average, as his fast straight-line speed and agility make up for below-average balance and a lack of power in his stride. He may turn out to be more of a complimentary winger than one who drives possession, but he has proven to be a lethal option when teamed up with muckers and grinders.
Carolina Hurricanes Pos. Team League
58. Ryan Johnson LHD Sioux Falls USHL
16gp-1g-6a-7pts | 6’0, 162 | 7/24/01
A future Minnesota Gopher who patrols the blue like with confidence, poise and smarts, Johnson is the top defenseman on a talented Sioux Falls squad. The son of former NHL’er Craig Johnson, Ryan is as steady as they come when it comes to draft-eligible rearguards, but he’s also also a weapon to into the power play and the attack at even strength. Blessed with nimble feet and quick lateral movement, Johnson covers ground in a hurry and effortlessly glides towards where he wants to get to. He’s a confident puck carrier who leaves pressure in the dust by using a lot of head fakes, pivots and quick changes of pace, but he also passes the puck with both accuracy and authority. Johnson is an excellent bank passer, and he must have a high success rate with his subtle leads that help teammates escape from the defensive zone. He’s a cerebral penalty killer with a quick stick who reacts accordingly and is able to equally distribute his attention to the points and both the weak or strong-side threats. Although he isn’t very physical, Johnson shuts down zone entry attempts by making timely step-ups and telegraphing an opponent’s intentions.
San Jose Sharks Pos. Team League
59. Case McCarthy RHD U.S. U18 NTDP
22gp-2g-8a-10pts | 6’1, 194 | 1/9/01
A thick, big-bodied blue liner who can crank it from the point, McCarthy has made the most of his limited minutes as a bottom-pairing defender on a stacked NTDP squad. He loves to shoot the puck, so using him on the power play is a legitimate option. But he also understands the importance of keeping his puck controlling to a minimum and deferring to his playmakers. Committed to Boston University, McCarthy maintains a tight gap and is a punishing body checker capable of delivering thunderous hits; plus possesses powerful leg drive to throw hip checks that knock down forwards of any size. He doesn’t do it often, but McCarthy is competent at taking the puck with speed through center, and he relies on the smart or safer plays rather than force things. He is a strong, powerful skater with first-step quickness, and his agility and quick feet make him asset on the penalty kill. McCarthy deserves a lot of credit for staying within himself while playing alongside elite set-up men, but there’s a sense that he’s more than capable of  doing more with the puck if the situation changed.
Montreal Canadiens (VGK via CBJ) Pos. Team League
60. Ville Heinola LHD Lukko Liiga
17gp-1g-3a-4pts | 5’11, 178 | 3/2/01
Heinola is a swift-skating puck rusher with first-step quickness and agility who always keeps his feet moving with or without the puck. An excellent skater who turns smoothly, Heinola is a strong puck manager who controls the flow of his shifts with acute awareness and poise. Although he isn’t the strongest on his skates, Heinola is incredibly elusive in all three zones and finds a way to maintain possession despite being chased around by one or more opponents. He is one of the better draft-eligible rearguards on puck retrievals, and he whips timely stretch passes right onto the tape of a streaking teammate from as far back as his own goal line. Running a power play comes effortlessly for Heinola, who owns the perfect quick-release shot for creating rebounds. His slot coverage and ability to shut down puck carriers at his own line are works in progress, and he concedes a lot of room in the low slot. Still, Heinola is willing to take a hit to move the puck, and he will finish checks against any opponent.
New York Rangers (TB) Pos. Team League
61. Egor Afanasyev C Muskegon USHL
16gp-11g-13a-24pts | 6’3, 203 | 1/23/01
A hard-shooting pivot with size and strength, Afanasyev has used a power game to impose his will on enemy defenses. He owns a terrific shot and has a high compete level, and there’s a significant (and obvious) level of intimidation that allows him to dictate the tempo of his shifts. Afanasyev has very good speed and outstanding balance, and he pivots on a dime during zone entries and cycles. Equally adept at being either a finisher or set-up man, he can fill in on the wing and a foothold on the low slot. He may not have a mean streak, but Afanaseyev simply is too big and strong to outmuscle, and opponents eventually accept the fact that he is an immovable object, especially on the power play. Consider him from of the draft’s top pure finishers.
Nashville Predators Pos. Team League
62. Sasha Mutala RW Tri-City WHL
21gp-6g-10a-16pts | 6’1, 195 | 5/6/01
An aggressive two-way winger with a high compete level and smarts, Mutala was a key cog in Team Canada’s win at the Ivan Hlinka, scoring two goals in the gold medal game against Sweden. He always keeps his feet moving and likes to apply pressure in any part of the ice, and will finish his checks with authority. Effort and anticipation are a big part of his game, and Mutala is a threat to turn a harmless, defensive-zone puck battle into an instant counterattack. His straight-line speed is above average and it take a few steps to get into high gear, but Mutala turns quickly and is tough to knock off the puck. He possesses very good vision and lays the puck right onto the tape of both stating and streaking teammates. Mutala has quick, soft hands and an accurate shot that you’d like to see him use more often. He may not become a star at the next level, but he is a coachable player who will do anything asked of him and give 100 percent no matter what the scoreboard says.