Marching on from yesterday’s kick off of the Nation Network Top 100, today we’ll sneak into the end of the third round – remember that now goes all the way to the 93rd overall spot. You might have noticed that it’s awfully late to be putting out an article. You may also have noticed that the Expected Success numbers for the prospects in yesterday’s article were a wee bit high for guys we were projecting in the fourth round. These two things were in fact tied together, as there was a little hiccup in the pGPS model’s code, which I have now corrected.
I’ll also note that while the latest version of pGPS is testing pretty well at this time (and I do intend to release some data on its predictability before the draft), I am still tweaking some things here and there, so the possibility exists that some numbers might fluctuate a little over the next month or so. By the time the full Top 100 countdown is complete in late June, we’ll have some final numbers to present. Still, the ones presented herein have had good results, especially in the CHL.
Now on to the list.
#95: Linus Nyman (LW – OHL)
By J.D. Burke
- Age: 17 – July 11th, 1999
- Birthplace: Helsinki, FIN
- Frame: 5’10” / 159 lbs
The Kingston Frontenacs boast an impressive crop of first-time draft eligible players, with four prospects likely to hear their names early in the second day of the draft — one of them, even, has a solid chance on the first day. Often lost in that shuffle is Finnish winger Linus Nyman.
Nyman is a shifty, small winger with high-end offensive upside. The Finnish import is at his best when he’s creating offence off the rush and knows how to use his speed well in transitioning play from the defensive zone.
With a strong Ivan Hlinka tournament, Nyman put himself onto the draft scene. When he burst out of the gates with authority in his first OHL season, he’d done enough to ensure he stayed there all season. And stay there he did, even when his production plateaued by about the midway point of the season.
The biggest hold up for Nyman, unsurprisingly, is his sleight frame. He checks in at just 5’10” and weighs only 159 lbs. If Nyman ever wants so much as a sniff of NHL action, he’s going to have to add muscle and bulk to his frame.
Nyman produced 50 points in 68 games for the Frontenacs this season, good for third on the team in scoring behind only Jason Robertson and Stephen Desrocher. In 11 playoff games, Nyman added seven goals and four assists, good for a point per game pace.
#94: D’Artagnan Joly (RW – QMJHL)
By Ryan Biech
- Age: April 7th, 1999
- Birthplace: Gatineau, QC, CAN
- Frame: 6’2″ / 161 lbs
The younger brother of Michael Joly, D’Artagnan had an impressive first full season in the QMJHL this year. Putting up 16 goals and 32 assists in 66 games for Baie-Comeau. He finished the season in 6th in points amongst first time QMJHL forwards with 79% (38/48) of those being primary points.
Given that his eTOI was 18:04, which was at least a full two minutes below the 5 names above him – it makes the production even more impressive.
He was extremely productive in high danger shots, but took a large portion of his shots from low danger. If there are some criticisms for the 6’3” and 180 lbs right winger, it’s that he didn’t use his size to get into those high danger areas and that he didn’t shoot enough. His 160 shots were 56th amongst all QMJHL forwards, and 2.42 SH/GP were ranked 82nd amongst that same group.
He has an impressive stride that is long and has power. He sees the ice very well and uses his teammates well. He struggled in the faceoff circle, going on 37.4% and thoughts are that he may be better suited on the wing.
Joly has that intriguing size and playmaking ability that would make him an attractive player in this draft.
#93: Alexander Polunin (LW – KHL)
By J.D. Burke
- Age: 19 – May 25th, 1997
- Birthplace: Moskva, RUS
- Frame: 5’9″ / 172 lbs
If you could just imagine how upset I was with my fellow Nations Network writers when, to my dismay, Alexander Polunin didn’t make the cut for our draft rankings last season. I spoke about Polunin at the World Junior Hockey Championships; I talked him up as an option for the Canucks with the 63rd overall pick; I even ranked him as high as 40th on my own board! In retrospect, that was a tad bit high, but my conviction holds: Polunin is a legitimate NHL prospect with high-end offensive upside.
As luck would have it, we weren’t the only ones to bypass Polunin last year. The entire league passed on the 5’9″ Russian winger for the second straight year, forcing him to re-enter the draft for a third time this season.
With a second stab at projecting the skilled winger, he’s made the grade. Polunin is small, but has played against men for three straight seasons and acquitted himself well offensively. He plays a flashy, skill-game and sees the ice exceptionally well. Can you say draft analytics darling?
I should add, though, that in spite of not hearing his name in consecutive drafts, there are members of the scouting community that think fairly highly of Polunin’s game. Consider this scouting report from www.HockeyProspect.com‘s Draft Black Book:
“Polunin plays the game at a fast pace and has a quick understanding of his options. He can combine with his linemates but in the offensive zone he is more often than not focused on getting lanes to the net. He seems constantly ready to shoot as he moves towards the slot and it doesn’t take much time for his dangerous right-handed shot to get off. Consistently brings the effort and competes hard in puck battles, partially making up for size limitations. He’s a good skater and seems to fit in high intensity games, but may not possess the talent level needed to have more than marginal NHL potential at his size.”
Playing in his third season for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Polunin contributed 19 points (nine goals and ten assists) in 45 games. Polunin added two goals in his team’s playoff run as well and was almost a point per game player for Russia at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
#92: Patrick Khodorenko (C – NCAA)
By Ryan Biech
- Age: 18 – October 13th, 1998
- Birthplace: Walnut Creek, CA, USA
- Frame: 6’0″ / 207 lbs
Measuring in at 6’0” and 207 lbs, Khodorenko is on older side of this draft class with a mid-October birthday. That shouldn’t take away from his performance at in the NCAA this season, putting up 7 goals and 11 assists in a middle six role for the University of Michigan Spartans.
He is known for his high end puck control and vision on the ice – while being strong on the puck. Plays a 200-foot game with good transition through the neutral zone.
Khodorenko was a player who was in the conversation as a possible first player for the 2017 NHL Entry draft a couple of years ago, but after some lacklustre performances in the USNDTP U17 and U18 programs, his stock has dropped a bit. He didn’t tear up the NCAA this year, which resulted in him entering the draft as the 107th best North American skater.
But it’s worth noting that any 18-year old that can hold their own in the NCAA during the draft year is worth keeping an eye on. If an NHL team does take him, they will have three more years to assess where he is before having to make a decision on an ELC. With the graduation of some players at Michigan State, it is expected that Khodorenko will see an increased role.
If Khodorenko is around in the 4th round (or onwards), he may worth a flyer as he has the tools to be a successful NHL’r. He just hasn’t met scouts’ expectations.
#91: Joni Ikonen (RW – SuperElit)
By Jeremy Davis
- Age: 18 – April 14th, 1999
- Birthplace: Espoo, FIN
- Frame: 5’10” / 168 lbs
Finnish-born Joni Ikonen has been taking the Swedish path for the last couple of seasons, and he had a pretty successful year. Not only did he produce at a point per game in the Under-20 SuperElit league, he made his professional debut with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. Although he only played 10 games and didn’t pick up any points, the very fact that he was there in his draft year bodes well for his future.
When he was playing pro, he wasn’t given a whole lot of opportunity to showcase what he could do, averaging just 4:26 a game. He did manage four shots on net in that time (giving him an individual shot rate of 5.4 shots on net per 60 minutes, which is only just below average for a junior aged player in the SHL). He also managed to not be on the ice for any goals against.
Ikonen did far more damage at the junior level this year, scoring 22 goals and 41 points in 40 games.
Ikonen was also notable at the World Under-18’s in Slovakia last month, as he was a contributor on the Finland U18 squad that won silver, giving the nation some redemption after their abysmal showing at the World Juniors earlier this year. Ikonen had 4 goals and 8 points in 7 games during the tournament, often playing with fellow stars of the tournament Kristian Vesalainen and Jesse Ylonen.
Ikonen is not a large player by any standards, at 5-foot-10 and roughly 170 pounds, and so like many skilled players that size, he has become adept at using his agility and elusiveness to avoid defensive players looking to take him off the puck – but that doesn’t mean that he won’t go into the high-danger areas looking for opportunities to score. He can score from distance as well, with a hard and accurate wrist that’s paired with a deceptive release – a promising combination.
He’s got excellent hands and loves to carry the puck, though this does get him into trouble from time to time. He does have a tendency to do a little too much, and doesn’t always have the ability to get himself out of jams. This is something he’ll have to work on as he progresses to higher levels, and time and space is only going to get more limited, and the punishment for mistakes will only become swifter.
From what I’ve gathered, scouts have been pretty divided on what they think of Ikonen. There is enough tantalizing skill there that some think we could become a top six center one day. A team that thinks that highly of him could take a chance on him much higher in the draft than this, so don’t be surprised if he’s off the board much earlier than 91st.
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