16. Emil Andrae – LD 5’9 183 lbs
This is a prospect that not many have heard of, but has started attracting serious attention in Sweden’s SuperElit league for HV71. He’s certainly not the biggest, nor does he have blazing speed, but man, does he ever have Hockey IQ and an elite understanding of the game.
Andrae was initially a late 1st round talent for me to start the year, but his 25 points (8 G and 17 A) certainly caught my attention. Furthermore, although he was help scoreless this season in four games in the SHL, he did not look otu of place and, once again, used his smarts and vision to escape fore-checkers and start the counter attack
What I like about Andrae the msot is his decision making skills. He isn’t the type of player that will hesitate much, as he is great at creating illusory plays by faking out his opponents on-on-one both defensively and, as evidenced above, offensively.
He is extremely efficient in getting pucks on net for deflections or rebounds and is often found joining the rush as the 4th man to aid in support. Furthermore, Andrae is known for his exceptional hands and stickhandling for a defenseman. He can quite literally shake off opponents by deaking them out of their pants, recouping the puck and making elite-level passes to open teammates for a scoring chance.
He is also very effective defensively, limiting the opposition’s time around the net with key positional awareness, while also using his stick well to box out incoming passes. He plays a style that reminds me very much of Ryan Ellis, not because of their height, but because of how effective they are at both ends of the ice, despite not possessing elite speed or size, but due to their Hockey IQ and two-way skill.
Player Comparable: Ryan Ellis
17. Jeremie Poirier – LD 6’0 192 lbs
Jeremie Poirier has the potential to be a Thomas Chabot-style player in the QMJHL for the Saint-John Sea Dogs. He has the raw skill, the great skating and powerful strides, as well as an exceptional array of shooting tools in his arsenal to become an exceptional D-man in the NHL.
However, due to his penchant for the offensive, he does have the occasional brainfart that leaves many thinking he will be better suited for 2nd pair duty in the NHL, as he often fails to cover his man or limit high-danger scoring chances around his net.
Although his defensive game will continue to improve as he grows stronger and more mature, his offensive game is quite developed for a 17-year-old, as he has already put up near PPG numbers this season with 35 points (11 G and 24 A) in just 43 games so far for the lowly Sea Dogs.
He uses his speed, his accurate wrist shot and extremely heavy cannon-like slapshot to generate his offense, while also using his speed and great vision to collect loose pucks along the boards and execute high-skill cross-ice passes for one-timers or quick zone-exits.
Poirier is one of the defensemen I could see rising quite high in this draft due in part to the fact that he has the most untapped potential of anyone not named Jamie Drysdale.
Player Comparable: Thomas Chabot
18. Mavrik Bourque C 5’10 165 lbs
Bourque is a favourite prospect of mine because he is simply a warrior on the ice and the heart of the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. He has been everywhere for them on the ice, from an offensive and defensive aspect, while providing excellent leadership and exceptional offensive chance generation.
What sets Bourque apart from the other prospects in this draft is certainly his his combinations of skill, grit, determination and speed. He continues to impress scouts and fans across the QMJHL every night with his dazzling dekes and his great top-end speed.
His efforts have been rewarded this season as he has put up an impressive 53 points (23 G 30A) in just 40 games and leads his team in scoring by 15 points! His main asset has been his stellar shooting arsenal, as he can unload a powerful wrist-shot without much notice, his release is truly exceptional and underrated. He might not be the pure goal scorer that Raymond or Holtz are, but he can certainly be a goal-scoring forward in the NHL should he continue trending forward.
He as a very high-end skill style, but is on the smaller side. He is able to check and play a gritty game, which bodes well for his NHL career, but I think he has far more untapped potential as a goal-scorer than many let on. On a more complete offensive team, I feel like Bourque could pot 50 goals in junior and that’s why I compare him, in style, to a dangerous winger like Jeff Skinner
Player Comparable: Jeff Skinner
19. Rodion Amirov – LW 6′ 168 lbs
Amirov is a little bit of an under-the-radar player at the moment, as he didn’t get the prime visibility that other draft prospects got at the World Junior Championship, but, rest assured, he is a great value to have at the 19th selection for any team.
The best way one could characterize his game would be to call Amirov a puck-hound, as he is is constant pursuit of the puck and uses his great skating and long-strides to effectively neutralize his opponents and strip them of the puck.
Amirov also possesses a very good set of hands to go with very strong skating. He can beat you 1-on-1 along the boards or in the middle of the offensive zone and deke goaltenders out of their pants if given the space.
One thing to like about Amirov’s game is how he creates space for himself using solid puck-protection skills and his great hands. He can fit anywhere in a top-6 and has the upside to really excel as the games get tighter.
In my limited viewings of Amirov (I’ve only watched him 5-6 times) I always came away with an Alexander Radulov vibe, as they share the same key characteristics in their game, albeit Radulov possesses a harder shot. If all goes well and Amirov comes over to North America, he’ll bring his work ethic and bulldog-style and his electric offensive talents with him.
Player Comparable: Alexander Radulov
20. Lukas Cormier – LD 5’10 170lbs
Cormier could realistically be the most underrated defenseman of this entire draft. Possessing good speed and great Hockey IQ, Cormier is, above all an exceptionally well-rounded defenseman capable of limiting the opposition as they enter the zone and box them out for an eventual turnover.
However, from an offensive perspective, Cormier is extremely agile as it pertains to puck retrieval and attacking the top of the slot. He can unleash his strong and incredibly deceptive wrist-shot
Cormier has been a huge part of the offense for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders this season, putting up 21 points (5G and 16A) in 25 games this season. He has helped insure the defensive side of the game is clamped down, while being very effective at carrying out the puck and creating successful zone entries as well.
One thing that is very underrated about his game is his offensive tools and his offensive chance generation, which is far higher than most give him credit for. As he continues to grow as a defenseman, Cormier will use his offensive tools more and more, making him a potential sleeper pick for me at this point.
He has the speed, Hockey IQ, shot and vision to be an effective top-4 D in the NHL down the line, but needs to work on bulking-up and taking more offensive chances. He has begin shooting at the net far more as the season has gone along, but I fully expect him to really turn on the jet in the second half of the QMJHL calendar.