21. Jake Sanderson – LD 6’1 185 lbs
Jake Sanderson is another one of those many defensemen that could be taken much higher than initially expected, due to his great two-way game mobility and size.
Sanderson isn’t the type of D that is ever going to wow you with his exceptional puck skills or his booming shot, but he is the new type of two-way D that is able to transition the puck up the ice in a hurry, and, if there is room, he’ll even skate it up there himself!
One thing I really like about Sanderson’s game is how he knows exactly when to pinch or join the rush as the 4th man, which immediately throws off defending opponents, opening space for himself and his teammates. The Above sequence is indicative of just that, and really shows you the type of game that Sanderson could play in the NHL.
He does possess a rather strong wrist shot, and can clap home a strong slap-shot from the point, but I don’t think he will ever be a powerplay general like some of the other D in this draft. However, he does have good vision and crisp passing, which will likely see him on 2nd waves in the NHL.
Sanderson has great Hockey IQ and really processes the game at a high level in all three zones. He’s unspectacular in execution, but he is smart enough to know where to be and what the right play is. When Sanderson joins the rush, you know something good is about to happen and the University of North Dakota commit is going to have all the time in world to hone his craft in the NCAA before jumping into a 2nd pairing role at the NHL level.
Player Comparison: Ryan McDonaugh
22. Jack Quinn – C/RW 6’1 176 lbs
Jack Quinn is the 2nd Ottawa 67 on this list and a teammate of Marco Rossi in the OHL. He’s a very talented winger that also plays with a physical edge and uses his good speed in order to attack the zone with tremendous velocity and creae all kinds of space for himself.
When ranking him and looking at his offensive production, many will ask how many of Quinn’s 48 points (30 G 18A) are a product of Marco Rossi, as the young forward had only 32 points (12 G and 20 A) in 61 games. I think both benefit greatly by playing with each other, as Quinn plays more of a chippy and gritty game, but has the skill and speed to keep up with an elite talent like Rossi, which is a compliment to his game.
What is really evident about Quinn is how much he likes to challenge defenders on 1-on-1 situations and push the puck behind them in order to create scoring opportunities. He uses his speed and good set of hands to attack the zone, opening up a lane for a pass, or to further drive the slot.
I also like his shooting arsenal, as he has a very deceptive shot that is able to find the net rather quickly. His skating stride is also quite powerful, as he can glide into the offensive zone with ease, but then, without notice, hit another gear to evade a check or poke in order to create a high-danger scoring chance (as seen above).
I strongly believe Quinn’s combination of size, speed and shot will make him a prime candidate for the latter half of the 1st round, as many teams will be looking to add this kind of high skill and high character player at this point in the draft. Some scouts might question Rossi’s impact on his production, and rightfully so when picking this high, but I believe Quinn is his own player and a good one at that!
Player Comparable: Boone Jenner
23. Zion Nybeck – RW 5’9 176 lbs
Zion Nybeck is another product of Sweden that is small in size but gargantuan in ice presence. Predominantly a speedy and skilled winger, Nybeck is known for his quick zone exits and strong wrist-shot.
Although he is not quite at the level of Raymond or Holtz, Nybeck has legitimate top-6 potential and has the skill to make the quickest defensemen look like pylons. He plays the game with a little bit of an edge and is already quite solid on his skates at 176 lbs at just 5’9.
The most exciting part of Nybeck’s game has always been his blistering shot. Even in the SuperElit league this year, Nybeck has been an absolute force with 36 points (18G and 22A) in just 28 games this season. He often uses his speed to reach some open ice and unleash a wrist shot, which he can do in a pinch due to his great release, but it’s how often his shot seems to get through traffic that has impressed me more.
I also like Nybeck’s hands in tight. He is a small in stature, but he can stick-handle his way out of corners quite efficiently. Couple that with an engine that never quits, and you have the makings of a hard-working top-6 winger that compliments a line quite well.
Although he may have a stronger stride and more top-end speed at the same age, watching Nybeck reminds me of a young Viktor Arvidsson, who is able to use his speed and vision to play a high-tempo and high-skill game, while also bring an element of grit and responsible play.
Player Comparable: Viktor Arvidsson
24. William Wallinder – LD 6’4 192 lbs
William Wallinder is a towering defenseman known primarily for his strong defensive game, which is made easy by the sheer amount of ice he covers with his great size and long reach. However, limiting Wallinder to the second coming of Hall Gill would be an egregious mistake as he posses far other qualities that make him a very intriguing prospect at this rank.
He possesses a very good set a wheels and a very strong stride which allows him to get up the ice very quickly. Just in the clip above, he goes from stationary to full speed in three strides, while creating a full zone-entry and drawing a penalty, all during a full line change.
His hands and his shot are also very underrated, as he’s able to unload a cannon from the blue line, especially during the powerplay. His offensive game is quite evident to all those who have watched him play in the SuperElit league this season, putting up a 21 points (5 G 16A) in 27 games.
Wallinder’s great SuperElit performance performances have earned him a call-up to HockeyAllsvenskan’s Modo (Sweden’s 2nd tier division), where he has suited up for 9 games so far this season. Although he has been held pointless, it’s quite evident to see how he can use his physical tools and strong hockey sense to impact the game at higher levels. He does have some good top-4 potential, and could really explode up the ranks if he begins to carry over his offense from the J-20 level into the pros this season.
Player Comparable: Brandon Carlo
25. Braden Schneider – RD 6’2 209 lbs
Braden Schneider plays a very old-school, hard-hitting game reminiscent of past Western Canadian defensemen. Although he is a strong and rugged defenseman, Schneider has a very strong first few stride and excellent edge-work when it comes to his skating.
The mobile-rearguard is able to use his speed and his strong acceleration to exit the zone and command centre-ice in order to create the easy zone entry. His skating and speed see him jump into the rush very often, usually as the 4th man, allowing Schneider to unleash his bomb of a shot from the point for a high-quality scoring chance.
Schneider hits extremely hard and plays a very aggressive game in the defensive zone. He uses his great positional awareness to push his opponents to the outside of the offensive zone, before absolutely crushing them along the boards. Even in the Russia-Canada series, Schneider, who was on Team Canada’s shortlist, absolutely destroyed Max Groshev, showing you that he can crush you in any situation.
the young D-man is also incredibly effective at moving the puck, especially out of the defensive zone, as he is able to make crisp outlet passes for zone-exits in all situations. Schneider has been called out for his decision-making under pressure, but, when Schneider keeps his game simple, he is very effective under pressure. He usually gets caught when he tries to do to much, as is the case with many young defensemen.
Schneider always uses a very heavy point shot from the pint, especially on the powerplay. His 29 points (5 G 24 A) in 39 games show a solid, albeit unspectacular offensive production for a late-born draft eligible defenseman. It’s his overall game and the potential growth his game possesses, due to his physical prowess and skating ability.
I believe that Schneider doesn’t possess elite offensive tools, but he is a tier right under that. Likely panning out as a tough, mobile and aggressive top-4 defenseman down the line, Schneider is one of my favourite prospects in the draft and could rise on this list with a more offensive 2nd half of the season.