32. Lukas Reichel – LW
Jumping into the DEL for Eisbaren Berlin this season, Reichel’s strong work ethic and underrated vision have been on full display. He can fit in whatever role you provide him, be it a checker, a complimentary player to an offensive powerhouse in Tim Stutzle for the World Junior Championships, or a defensive forward during tight games. In short, Reichel can do it all, and quite effectively.
33. Marat Khusnutdinov – C
Khusnutdinov is one heck of a forward and someone I could easily see being picked higher than the start of the 2nd round. Playing in the MHL (the KHL’s junior feeder league), Khusnutdinov is not a household name for most draft enthusiasts, but he is a legit first round talent to many, including yours truly. He plays a very strong and rugged game for a smaller guy (5’9, 165 lbs), and possesses some seriously good hockey sense. He uses his good speed to get around his competition, especially in the neutral zone, and penetrate the offensive zone. The young pivot doesn’t shy against stronger competition and loves cutting to the net.
34. Emil Andrae – LD
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.
35. Ryan O’Rourke – LD
Ryan O’Rourke is a strong and rugged defender from the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds who loves to distribute some solid checks and make smart offensive plays. O’ Rourke is a tough customer who isn’t afraid of dropping the gloves, while also having exceptional positional awareness. Many question his offensive ability at the next level, but I disagree, as O’Rourke has a very deceptive and heavy wrist shot, while being a very underrated playmaker on the powerplay as a quarterback.
36. Roni Hirvonen – C
Hirvoven is an incredibly intelligent player capable of adapting to almost any situation and using his high Hockey IQ to chose the right play almost every time. This is rather impressive for a 17-year-old in a men’s league like the Finnish Liiga. His 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points in 52 games may seem unimpressive, but he really began to find his game as the season went on. His great vision and his excellent passing showed in flashes as he continued to get used to play against men. He plays a chippy game for a smaller guy and he fights of every inch of ice on the ice.
37. Topi Niemela – RD
Topi Niemela plays a very smooth and aggressive style that is predicated on moving the puck and transitional play. Playing the whole year with men in the Finnish Liiga for Kärpät, Niemela showed good poise and a penchant for pushing the pace of the game in the offensive direction. Many believe he still needs to work on his defensive zone coverage and gap control, but his potential as a top-4 defenseman is undeniable.
38. John-Jason Peterka – RW
A lot of Peterka’s game is centered around high-tempo hockey, where he uses his ever-moving feet and solid puck-handling to create zone entries with ease, especially on the rush. His elusiveness, even at the pro-level in Germany, causes many defensemen to over commit in defending him, thus opening up passing lanes for him to take advantage of. He is also very aware positionally, often drifting into exactly the right place to unleash his powerful wrist shot.
39. Zion Nybeck – LW
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. Nybeck had one of the best offensive performances in SuperElit in recent memory, putting up 27 goals and 39 assists for 66 points in just 42 games this season. This kind of offensive output leads many to believe that Nybeck could be a darkhorse first round pick, should a team covet pure skill and talent over the usual tropes of size and defensive responsibility. At this point in the draft, I would be thrilled with Nybeck at this rank.
40. Roby Järventie – LW
Järventie was a monster this season in the Finnish 2nd division (Mestis), putting up an impressive 23 goals and 15 assists for 38 points in 36 games. He plays a physical game with a nose for the net. He possesses a solid, and very heavy wrist shot, while also having some pretty soft hands. Järventie is going to have to get a little quicker and improve his defensive presence, but, as one of the youngest players in the draft, he has a ton of time to do so, especially physical training.
41. Justin Barron – RD
By April 2019, it looked like Justin Barron could have a realistic shot at being a legitimate 1st round prospect when he looked rock-solid for the Halifax Mooseheads during his 16-year-old season. Unfortunately, Barron missed 3 months due to blood clot issues, and returned in February to put up 19 points in 34 games. His game is based on great skating, agility and intelligence. He plays a very north-south style of game that is predicated on transition and high-tempo puck moving. If he could return to form and make up the lost season of development, there’s a very legitimate chance that Barron could be the gamble of the draft.