Photo Credit: Dobber Prospects

2019 NHL Entry Draft Countdown: 40-31

Welcome to the Oilersnation Draft Countdown. Over the next week leading into the draft, we’ll be aggregating content about the top 100 players who will be available in Vancouver on June 21st and 22nd. Here are profiles for Nicholas Robertson, Lassi Thomson, Kaedon Korczak, Anttoni Honka, Yegot Afanasyev, Yegor Spiridonov, Brett Leason, Nathan Legare, Spencer Knight, Thomas Harley.

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40. Nicolas Robertson

Date of Birth: 11 Sept 2001 (Age 17)
Nation: USA
Place of Birth: Arcadia, CA
Position: C/LW   Shoots: Left
Height: 5’9″        Weight: 161 lbs.

2018-19 Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)

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Profile: Somewhat undersized, but plays hard with a little bit of an edge; has speed and a dangerous shot, allowing him to capitalize on scoring chances from a fierce forecheck.

“… His skill supersedes the questions regarding his size and his determination to get things done offensively far outweighs anything that can play against him. That said, he is more raw than some of the other players ranked ahead of him in the draft. That doesn’t mean he can’t make it as a top-six forward down the road at the NHL level.” -Andrew Forbes, The Hockey Writers

“Robertson is a very good skater with very good speed. He has excellent edgework and despite the size disadvantage is very strong on his skates. He has the ability to slow the game down or pick up the pace quickly because of a very quick first step. He’s able to slip into seams almost unnoticed. He skates with a wide stance which makes him stronger on his feet. Robertson also possesses excellent vision. He can draw in defenders with his patience and sees opportunities and seams open up with good anticipation. But when he doesn’t see those seams, he will take the lane directly to the net. It can be argued that Robertson has the best puck skills in his draft class. He handles the puck extremely well at top speed and can dish it at top speed. He can also fire it while at top speed and off his wrong foot. His shot is deceptive and is as NHL ready as any shooter in the draft class.” -Dominic Tiano, The OHL Writers

39. Lassi Thomson

Date of Birth: 24 Sept 2000 (Age 18)
Nation: Finland
Place of Birth: Tampere, FIN
Position: D       Shoots: Right
Height: 6’0″      Weight: 190 lbs.

2018-19 Team: Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

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Profile: Smooth-skating, right-shooting, offensive-defenseman who can lead the rush or create chances with a sublime outlet pass; can quarterback the powerplay, with a hard, heavy shot from the point. Will play for Ilves of Liiga for the 2019-20 season.

“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.” -Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

“Thomson left Finland to play for the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL, and so far that decision has looked good for him… He’s not big but he has a big shot from the blue line. And it’s not just a heavy shot, it’s pretty accurate as well. His playmaking abilities aren’t quite as good but they’re pretty good as well. He’s also developed a lot as a skater this season, and it’s a strength for him now. That skating ability allows him to be a good transitional defenseman. His defensive game needs a lot of work before he’s ready to play in the NHL. One important thing to remember about Thomson is that he’s very old for his draft class. If he was born nine days earlier, he would have been available for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Thomson is likely going to be drafted in the second round.” -Jokke Nevalainen, dobberprospects.com

38. Kaedan Korczak

Date of Birth: 29 Jan 2001 (Age 18)
Nation: Canada
Place of Birth: Yorktown, SK
Position: D       Shoots: Right
Height: 6’2″     Weight: 192 lbs.

2018-19 Team: Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Profile: Right-shooting defensemen who plays a near-perfect shutdown role; will use his pro-level frame to physically separate opponents from the puck, but is more cerebral in that he plays the angles and reads the ice first-and-foremost.

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“… plays a smart positioned offensive game with his precision passing and opportune slides to open areas. Handles the puck well on his receptions and has good knee-bend, so he pivots with power in transition or after he provides a secondary outlet for his teams puck carrier out of their defensive zone. Very good in his end and handles business inside the box area, and is very cognizant when he has to move to another man in his defensive assignment. Although not looked as a power play primary QB, he has a good half wind-upshot, and is excellent at disguising a pass with a slap pass shot to a teammate on the doorstep. Has nice size and upside.” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

“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.” -Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

37. Anttoni Honka

Date of Birth: 5 Oct 2000 (Age 18)
Nation: Finland
Place of Birth: Jyväskylä, FIN
Position: D      Shoots: Right
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 176 lbs.

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2018-19 Team: JYP (Liiga)

Profile: A polarising, offensively-minded defenseman who has been projected as late as the second round or as high as a Top 15 pick. A great skater who will lead or join a rush to generate offense, but can be a heart attack on the ice, as his hockey IQ doesn’t always match his skill-set, and can lead to high danger chances against his own team.

“… Can turn harrowing situations into quick counterstrikes as effortlessly as this Finnish defender, who has silky-smooth hands and displays exceptional passing skills from as far back as his own goal line. He’s been up and down playing in Finland’s top league, but his dominance against draft-age peers reveals a player with a tremendous amount of point-producing potential.” -Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

“The first thing everyone should know about Anttoni is that he’s an amazing skater. As an undersized defenseman (he’s 5-foot-10), you need to be a good skater. But he’s not just good, he’s great… has great acceleration, amazing ability to change pace, and unbelievable agility as he can twist and turn… allows him to join the rush, and that’s something he loves to do… also has high-end puck-skills. He can make tape-to-tape breakout passes. He can make plays at high speed. He can slow down the game and create space with his puck-handling. He can make opposing players look foolish with his tricks and fakes in one-on-one situations… a creative and dynamic player with great offensive vision. He can also create offense with his shot. It’s not a huge bomb but he can find open lanes and get pucks to the net… [however] takes too many risks to create offense, loses too many puck-battles, and his defensive ability is questionable at best. He’s not just thinking offense first, he’s only thinking about offense in every situation… when he turns the puck over, he’s not really capable of making big defensive plays to cover his own mistakes.” – Jokke Nevalainen, dobberprospects.com

36. Yegor Afanasyev

Date of Birth: 23 Jan 2001 (Age 18)
Nation: Russia
Place of Birth: Tver, RUS
Position: LW    Shoots: Left
Height: 6’4″     Weight: 201 lbs.

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2018-19 Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Profile: Powerful winger already with a pro-level frame, who doesn’t play with an edge but still uses his size to hang onto the puck and muscle his way to the high danger scoring areas. Will play of the Windsor Spitfires for the 2019-20 season.

“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… 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.” -Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

“Projects as a future power wing with good offense tools, soft hands, who had climbing production numbers, and looks to improve on them further. He will need to fill out get stronger and fix the hitch in his skating, improve his first couple steps. Displays a pro level shot / release… Impressive combination of size, skill, power and hockey smarts…” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

35. Yegor Spiridonov

Date of Birth: 22 Jan 2001 (Age 18)
Nation: Russia
Position: C/LW   Shoots: Right
Height: 6’2″        Weight: 192 lbs.

2018-19 Team: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)

Profile: Strong, physical, two-way centreman who is impactful both in shutting down opposing forwards and creating space for teammates. 

“… Spiridonov is a three-zone center with goal scoring ability who dominates on draws, is a top penalty killer and can maximize the skills of his wingers. He’s a big reason why his line of first-year eligibles are getting more ice time than your average experienced prospects.” -Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

“Every viewing of this solid Russian centreman had been positive even though he is not considered a big time impact prospect, just a physical one who takes care of business efficiently one at both ends of the ice, with a technically sound and responsible game while the marquee guys gets the glory. He is always there to lend a hand to his defenders and is tall and a rangy skating style that allows him to carry and eat up ice. He is rugged and takes hit to make plays, will hold the biscuit that extra second to freeze defenders and allow teammates to fill the soft areas. A tenacious penalty-killer, he has yet to show strong offensive upside. If this player was part of a North American program he would be heralded and taken a lot earlier. Lots to like as a team’s later round investment.” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

34. Brett Leason

Date of Birth: 30 Apr 1999 (Age 20)
Nation: Canada
Place of Birth: Calgary, AB
Position: RW    Shoots: Right
Height: 6’4″      Weight: 201 lbs.

2018-19 Team: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Profile: Big-framed, right-shooting defenseman who is a late-blooming, over-ager whose skating has finally began to catch up to his size and shooting. 

“This third year eligible player has made himself relevant as a possible first round choice by adding at least 50 more points than he produce the season before. Point totals don’t dictate draft hierarchy, but his World Junior Under-20 performance cannot be ignored. Sure, he needs to get faster add a quicker burst in the first step, which will help him to loose pucks, but he has super-soft hands, really excellent vision and a big strong shot. He is a big physical specimen that plays with physicality down low, and has the agility to shake loose, pivot and get shots off with defenders cemented to him. He has East-west elusiveness, and when he gets moving, he is difficult to derail. Display excellent vision and a hard heavy shot that he delivers in stride. Has gone from a long shot to a name that will be called in June.” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

“… Up until this past campaign, Leason was looked upon by many WHL scouts as a promising player with a lot of good raw tools – a big frame, physical tools and pretty effective puck skills – who simply didn’t have the skating to really use those skills. During the 2018 off-season, he worked on his skating and that unleashed the rest of his game on the WHL. He nearly tripled his previous offensive output…” -Ryan Pike, The Hockey Writers

33. Nathan Legare

Date of Birth: 11 Jan 2001 (Age 18)
Nation: Canada
Place of Birth: Montreal, QC
Position: RW   Shoots: Right
Height: 6’0″     Weight: 201 lbs.

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2018-19 Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Profile: Big, power-forward type winger with a knack for goal-scoring; will excel at riding shotgun with a playmaking centreman.

“Légaré possesses exceptional offensive skills, however, he is very dependent on his linemates to generate scoring opportunities. He could be a top-six forward at the NHL level if he is teamed up with elite players that can get him the puck. He could be a valuable player in today’s salary cap world as a cheaper, complimentary winger with scoring ability and very good size.” -Earl Jessiman, The Hockey Writers

“Legare is 200 plus pound winger with strong core muscle and knee bend that allows a low to the ice center stride and a punishing contact heaviness to his game. His over all skating has continued to improve and he is difficult to contain in the heavy traffic areas. Not timid in his physicality. Will be 40 plus goal scorer and shows improving set up skills to coincide with his ability to finish. Has good anticipation, and will hit his teammates with deceptive precise feeds on the attack. Is anxious to make a difference on the offensive side, so you might see him anxious to get back on the attack, but he is good at reading the opposition and stepping up and taking away passes. Getting noticed more and more as the season continues.” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

32. Spencer Knight

Date of Birth: 19 Apr 2001 (Age 18)
Nation: USA
Place of Birth: Darien, CT
Position: G      Catches: Left
Height: 6’3      Weight: 198 lbs.

2018-19 Team: U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Profile: The highest-ranked goaltender in the draft, with strong, lateral movements, a cool and calm demeanour, good rebound control and reads the ice well, allowing him to track down opposing shooters. Committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season.

“Teams seem to favor taking goalies in the 3rd round or later, but Knight is one of the most advanced North American-trained backstops to come around in quite some time. Some feel that he’d be a top-five pick if the league reverted to the old trend of taking netminders that high… the reduction in equipment size doesn’t seem to impact Knight, who covers his gaps quickly thanks to exceptional anticipation and forcing shooters out of their comfort zones.” -Steve Kounianous, The Draft Analyst

“… One of the best athletes in the draft class, he already displays quick movement, good puck tracking, and high end read and reactions for a young goaltender. His on and off the ice demeanor and maturity only strengthens one’s evaluation of his size and athleticism and success as a top junior goalie. Still working to improve his game and further economize his movements, the future looks bright enough for him to be the 10th United States-born goaltender selected in the first round. He is committed to Boston College, where he will further build his game.” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

“Knight has continued to be the backbone for The Program. He’s been nearly unbeatable against USHL competition, but it’s his performances against NCAA Division I schools and on the international scene are what have really stood out. His .916 save percentage in 20 USNTDP contests rivals some of the best season-long performance in the history of The Program. He appears to be a lock for the first-round this June with an eye towards being the first goaltender selected in the top-15 since Jack Campbell in 2010.” Cam Robinson, dobberprospects.com

31. Thomas Harley

Date of Birth: 19 Aug 2001 (Age 17)
Nation: USA
Place of Birth: Syracuse, NY
Position: D      Shoots: Left
Height: 6’3″     Weight: 192 lbs.

2018-19 Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Profile: Confident and smart with the puck, demonstrating high-calibre vision and passing-ability; is a strong skater with an impressive burst of speed; can quarterback the powerplay, owning a hard shot from the point.

“… 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… 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… 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.” -Steve Kournianous, The Draft Analyst

“Tall OHL left defender who plays on Mississauga’s top pairing. Is a balanced four-direction skater with upright skating style which doesn’t detract him from being an excellent backward skater or his ability to close on attackers. Sees time on the penalty-kill but the PP is where he is an offensive standout, and relishes joining the rush and being a QB. Still working on not getting caught flat-footed in transition, displaying better gap control, and reading the defensive coverages in his end, and some might question whether he has displayed high end attack skills or can play in the higher levels and have success in both ends that he has achieved in junior as he is finesse-type player; what is certain is that he currently already displays sharps edging, quick pivots, vision, excellent offemsive hockey sense, and calm composure taking care of business in his current level with solid passing skills and excellent vision.” -Bill Placzek, draftsite.com

“… Harley’s skating is likely the largest reason that he has risen in the draft rankings this past year, already being referred to as an elite skater. Mixed with his puck movement, Harley’s ceiling is high and has even been referred to as the next Thomas Chabot…” -Josh Bell, The Hockey Writers


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