The 2014 NHL Draft is still two months away, but it is never too early to take a look at some of the prospects eligible for this year's draft that have been passed over in previous drafts. This edition of "Off the Radar" looks at five prospects that could finally have their names called over the course of the two-day draft taking place in Philadelphia, PA in late June.
Adam Helewka, LW, Spokane Chiefs
6’1", 190 lbs.
Jumping straight from minor midget to the WHL in 2012-13, it’s no wonder Spokane’s Adam Helewka was not selected in the 2013 NHL Draft. Sure, scouts would have noticed him the year prior playing for the Vancouver Northwest Giants, but he received very little attention last season, despite being named the Chiefs' Rookie of the Year by compiling 27 points in 60 regular season games.
It has been a different story this season for Helewka. The Burnaby native, who was not selected in the WHL Bantam Draft, finished fifth in Chiefs’ scoring with 50 points, while his 23 goals placed him third on the team behind only Mitch Holmberg and Mike Aviani. And Central Scouting has taken notice as Helewka was ranked 72nd among North American skaters in the scouting agency’s final rankings.
It’s not just his offensive skill that should make him attractive to NHL teams in June, however. He has incredible hockey sense, plays a fairly mistake-free game, and has done what was asked of him by bulking up his 6’1" frame last off-season. The highlight of his season came on November 23, when, in front of his parents in Vancouver, he scored four goals and led Spokane to a 6-4 win.
Anthony DeLuca, LW, Rimouski Oceanic
5’9", 198 lbs.
Short in stature but burly and aggressive, Anthony DeLuca had a breakthrough season for the Rimouski Oceanic this past season, leading the team in scoring with 78 points in 67 games. He also had a fairly productive post-season with nine points in 11 games, before the Oceanic were beaten 8-7 in overtime of Game 7 in the second round.
At 16, DeLuca had verbally committed to the University of Vermont, and, because of that, was not selected in the QMJHL draft in 2011. He had planned to play for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL in 2012-13, but his rapid development caught the eye of the Oceanic, who made him a second round selection in the 2012 draft. In two QMJHL seasons and 133 regular season games, he has 118 points.
DeLuca was ranked 196th on Central Scouting’s midterm rankings but failed to appear in their final ranking, but he should be considered come June’s NHL Draft. Obviously, he has some offensive skill, and with his low center of gravity and strong bottom half, he can often be tough to knock off of the puck.
Mark Simpson, LW, Moncton Wildcats
6’5", 179 lbs.
A ninth round selection in the 2012 QMJHL Draft, Mark Simpson’s stock has been rising considerably since he cracked the Moncton Wildcats opening day roster. Part of that could be due to his lengthy 6’5" frame and the potential scouts see in his crash-and-bang style, but he actually had a fairly decent offensive campaign. Limited to just 44 games due to injuries, Simpson scored eight goals and added 12 assists.
Like DeLuca, Simpson was ranked by Central Scouting in their midterm rankings (172nd) but fell off the list in the final rankings. Still, his size should intrigue NHL teams, though he needs to improve his skating and bulk up in the off-season.
Jaedon Descheneau, RW, Kootenay Ice
5’9", 185 lbs.
Chalk up Jaedon Descheneau not getting drafted last year to his size. The 5’9" winger and oft-times center finished second behind only Sam Reinhart in scoring for the Kootenay Ice in 2012-13 with 78 points in 68 games. And just as Reinhart increased his production this past season, so did Descheneau who, again, finished second in team scoring, this time with 98 points and a team-high 44 goals.
He led the team in playoff goals as well, with 10 in 13 games, which should help his draft stock, despite the fact the Ice lost in the second round. Already, he has risen from number 123 on Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to number 95 in their final rankings.
A self-described playmaker, Descheneau can also fill the back of the net, as evidenced this season. He has above-average speed, and, like many smaller forwards, is shifty and skilled with the puck.
Lucas Wallmark, C, Luleå
6’0", 176 lbs.
Perhaps the most surprising omission from last year’s draft, Swedish forward Lucas Wallmark made a great second impression this season. In his first full season in the Swedish Hockey League, he scored three goals and added seven assists through 41 games while also collecting eight points in 11 games for Asplöven in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier league. But it was his performance at the 2014 World Junior Championship that was most impressive; he helped pace the silver-medal winning Swedes with eight points in seven games.
The offensive talent is there, and he has good hockey smarts, but it is his foot speed that perhaps had him left off of draft boards last season. This year, ranked 20th out of 140 European skaters by Central Scouting, and given improvements he made to his skating, he has a strong chance of being selected come June.
Follow Chris Roberts on Twitter via @ChrisRoberts_7