2019 NHL Draft Risers: Who!?

During every draft, there are risers and fallers. There are players that have fans saying: ‘’Who!?’’, but, not to worry, Scrimmage and Stats is bringing you a quick list of who could be on your team’s radar as the draft begins to open up after the late 1st round.

Let’s take a look at the most noteworthy risers in the upcoming draft:

LD – Samuel Bolduc 6’4/212 lbs (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, QMJHL)

For a big guy, Samuel Bolduc, defenseman of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, is very mobile and quite the puck-mover. He has excellent puck control and can transition the puck efficiently from defensive to offensive zones. Seen as a mostly modern-day, defensive-defenseman, Bolduc is all about a strong defensive base. He uses his long stick and his good reach to cut off passes and poke the puck away from the net.

On the counter-attack, Bolduc is good at opening up to the wings and receiving an outlet pass. He follows that up by using his mobility and size to exit the zone and often time take it all the way to the offensive blue-line. He has a very strong slapper from the point and is able to get very good speed on the shot. Bolduc is a very strong physical guy who can shut down opposing team players with size, speed and reach.

Bolduc’s very respectable season of 9 goals, 28 assists and 37 points in 65 games opened the eyes of many scouts. Initially projected as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, Bolduc used a very good 2nd half of the season and good Top Prospects game to vault himself into darkhorse consideration for the draft. There’s a lot to like in his game, but he is very raw. He could become a solid top-4 defenseman if all goes right; a new age defensive defenseman that a coach would love to use.

As a small tidbit, his former junior coach, Joël Bouchard is the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens’ farm team (The Laval Rocket). He is trending in the late 2nd round/ early 3rd vicinity, but don’T be surprised to see him jump another dozen spots come Draft Day.

LW – Brayden Tracey 6’/177 lbs  (Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL)

Brayden Tracey has flown a little under the radar while playing for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, but we always had him pegged around this rank due to his incredible speed, skill and work ethic. Tracey put up an impressive 36 goals and 45 assists for 81 points in 65 games and was a key contributor in all situations.

His speed is something to behold, as he is able to hit top speed after just two or three strides. His puck possession skills are rather good, and he does not shy away from physical play. He is able to use his strong wrist shot and excellent vision to keep goaltenders guessing at all times, and he becomes even more unpredictable for the opposition on the powerplay, where he uses his speed and stickhandling abilities to create space for his teammates.

Many will question Tracey’s offensive abilities without line mates Tristan Langan and Justin Almeida, but Tracey quickly shot down his critics with a great performance for Canada at the U-18 World Championships this past April.  Putting up 7 points in 7 games, Tracey was one of Canada’s most notable forwards, often causing havoc in the offensive zone with his speed and relentless effort along the boards. His vision and passing play made his teammates around him better, and his ability to adapt to his competition make him a surefire 1st round pick in our eyes. Look for Tracey to possibly go higher in this draft if a team believes he has even more offensive potential and growth. Tracey projects as a scoring winger in the NHL capable of playing a responsible two-way game.

He originally was trending in the late 2nd round/ early 3rd round area until the later part of January. However, an impressive 2nd half of the season and stellar U-18 World Championship performance for Canada has vaulted him into 1st round contention ( we have him ranked at 27th overall in our most recent mock draft). We fully expect Tracey to end up as a 1st round pick at this stage, the question is now: ‘’where in the 1st round?’’

C – John Beecher 6’3/ 195 lbs (USNDT, USHL)

John Beecher is a dream pivot that any coach would love to have in his lineup when all the chips were on the table. He is a big, responsible centre with deceptive hands that plays a game similar to a Ryan Poehling to a Josh Norris. He has deceptively good speed and is able to use his long stride and size to distance himself from coverage.

He is also extremely quick on his feet, with some scouts calling it ‘’NHL-Level speed’’ already at 18 years old. He is quickly able to hit top speed and beat defensemen on the wing by cutting from the boards to the net.

Beecher’s defensive game is extremely mature for a draft eligible player. He is quite good at being able to use to block shots and cut off shooting lanes from the point and faceoff circles. He uses his long stride to glide into position and then pressures opponents with a very active stick.

Initially thought as just a defensive centre playing behind Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte, Beecher is proving to be far more than the 3rd rounder many scouting services saw him as in October. In fact, Beecher has risen into the very late 1st round for some, as they think he is guaranteed to reach the NHL, and it’s just a question of 3rd or 2nd line centre at this point. In our rankings he’s ranked 32nd, and should a team require a centre instead of a winger or defenseman, he could rise into the 27-31 range.

LW – Robert Mastrosimone 5’10/158 lbs (Chicago Steel, USHL)

Robert Mastrosimone didn’t get to play with the monster US National Development team, but he still elft his mark on the USHL playing for the Chicago Steel. The speedy winger put up an impressive 31 goals and 29 assists for 60 points in 54 games. What’s more? Mastrisimone is a player who elevates his game when it matters most this year like the Ivan Hlinka tournament (5 points in 5 games) or during the playoffs for Chicago ( 7 goals and 8 assists in 10 games).  

Mastrosimone uses his good speed and solid release to score some pretty fun goals on the rush. He is able to see streaking teammates and use his solid passing skills to set them up with a beauty saucer pass. Mastrosimone can do it all in the offensive zone in terms of delivering good play with hish speed and skill.  

Many were initially low on Mastrosimone due to his lack of international experience and his smaller stature, but he quickly rose through the draft rankings from 4th rounder into the early-to-mid 2nd round. He is trending toward being a solid top-9 winger with an outside chance of becoming a top-6 winger.

LD – Semyon Chistyakov 5’10/ 168 lbs (Tolpar Ufa, MHL)

After underperforming at the Ivan Hlinka this summer, Semyon Chistyakov played some solid minutes for the MHL’s Tolpar Ufa this season. The left-handed, mobile rearguard put up 1 goal and 10 assits for 11 points in 30 games.

His main quality is his speed, which he began to use more and more as the season went on. Many saw him as a puck rushing defenseman, but Chistyakov began to use his puck-handling skills a little bit more to create better zone entries throughout the season. He is also very strong at patrolling the blue line and distributing the puck to his wingers along the boards.

He also likes to get physical and lay some really hard hits long the boards. Even for a smaller defenseman (5’10/ 168 lbs). Similarly to Habs’ 2nd round pick Alexander Romanov (2017, 38th overall), Chistyakov loves to drive into opponents with strong, clean open ice checks and uses his strong centre of gravity to halt his opponents in their tracks. The young defenseman likes to use his speed to pinch when he can as well, while also being quite strong at retrieving pucks along the boards.

Should you be interested in learning even more about this mobile and relatively unknown defenseman, please be sure to check out this great piece by Habs Eyes on the Prize here!

NHL Draft Trends or Recency Bias?

In out estimation, Chistyakov’s great U-18s, where he put up 2 goals in 7 games, has earned him a promotion into the 2nd round, with a lot of early teams in the 2nd round looking to pounce on him in the late 30s. Chistyakov’s game has really evolved over the last year and teams will want to ensure that he will not get snatched up by another team come Draft Day. That’s it for this piece! We hope you guys got a good sense of who some darkhorse risers could be in this year’s 2019 NHL Draft.

I fully expect these players to continue shooting up the various mock drafts you’ll be seeing in the next month, so remember to keep an eye out! If you haven’t had the chance to see a mock draft of the 1st round for the upcoming draft, Scrimmage and Stats has you covered with their own piece right here.