Throughout the 2014-15 season, Hockey’s Future has released a monthly article entitled “Off the Radar”, a look at players who were passed over in previous iterations of the NHL Draft. While these players are often disappointed, being shrugged off in favor of other players, there is still hope in their second, or perhaps third time through the process.
It’s a growing trend, as over 20% of all players drafted over the last three seasons have been players who re-entered the draft. Over the course of the last decade, well documented stories of Wayne Simmonds, Tanner Pearson, Andrew Shaw, and a bevy of other players who have made it to the NHL as a re-entry offered a beacon of hope.
Now that we are nearing the conclusion of the season, a few specific defensemen and goaltenders have separated themselves from the rest of the pack for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Take a look as we count them down for you below.
9. Petter Hansson, Linkoping (SHL)
6’1″, 176 pounds, Gislaveds, SWE
NHL CSS Ranking: #46 (EU)
Following in the footsteps of Chicago Blackhawks prospect Gustav Forsling, Petter Hansson’s development track has taken a similar turn through Linkoping. While not as offensively blessed, Hansson still broke out in a big way in the SuperElit, scoring 34 points in 38 games, earning 15 games up with the senior squad.
8. Tristen Pfeifer, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
6’4″, 180 pounds, Phoenix, AZ
NHL CSS Ranking: #135 (N.A.)
Everett’s Scholastic Player of the Year, Tristen Pfeifer took an unusual road to the WHL, carving a path out of anonymity with the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes U18 program. A complete mystery when he arrived at training camp, Pfeifer put his on-ice intelligence to good use, earning a roster spot. His transition was shaky at first, but Pfeifer came on late and displayed a composed, simple game.
7. Christian Jaros, Lulea (SHL)
6’3″, 205 pounds, Kosice, SVK
NHL CSS Ranking: #40 (EU)
One of the most physically imposing defenseman in Europe, Christian Jaros split the season with Lulea’s junior and senior team. He is very good defensively and is absolutely fearless, as referenced by him taking runs at the top forwards in the 2015 WJC for bronze medalist Slovakia.
6. Brien Diffley, Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
6’2”, 181 pounds, Burlington, MA
NHL CSS Ranking: #136 (N.A.)
Brien Diffley recently completed his freshman season at Boston University, and became a go-to player on the blueline. He was named as the Terriers Most Improved Player, a deserving accolade for a player adept in all three zones.
5. Michael Fora, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
6’2″, 207 pounds, Guibiasco, SUI
NHL CSS Ranking: #205 (N.A.)
Before coming to North America, Michael Fora was regarded as one of the best defense prospects in the Swiss U20 league. His decision to expose his game by reporting to Kamloops was admirable, and just might pay off. Fora did a great job containing opponents, and by the end of the season he earned a spot on the Blazers top power play unit.
4. Dmitri Yudin, Defense, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
6’2”, 185 pounds, Nizhny Tagil, RUS
NHL CSS Ranking: #30 (EU)
One of the top Russian defensemen at this year’s World Junior Championship, Yudin is a very steady, improving defenseman. He certainly won’t fill the scoresheet – he has a grand total of 10 goals over the last five years – but the positionally-aware Yudin is the kind of defenseman NHL teams yearn for.
3. Sebastian Aho, Skelleftea (SHL)
5’10”, 174 pounds, Umea, SWE
NHL CSS Ranking: #13 (EU)
After inexplicably going undrafted last year, Sebastian Aho enjoyed a coming-out party in Skelleftea. He was a stalwart in the SHL, and stepped up to play regular minutes in the playoffs. Aho is a slick-skating, slippery rover who manages the puck well, all traits that will serve him well in professional hockey.
2. Jacob Sweeney, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
6’4”, 215 pounds, Quebec, QC
NHL CSS Ranking: NR
It was shocking that Jacob Sweeney found himself without an NHL home last year, though with his stature and offensive ability in the forefront, that situation should right itself in June. Sweeney finished in the top 10 in scoring among all QMJHL defenseman with 46 points, and was a true number one defenseman for the Wildcats, playing in all situations.
1. Vladislav Gavrikov, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
6’3”, 215 pounds, Yaroslavl, RUS
NHL CSS Ranking: #26 (EU)
Despite splitting time with Lokomotiv’s junior team and the KHL men’s squad, Vladislav Gavrikov showed a tenacious drive and interest in playing an engaged game. Gavrikov suffocates opposing forwards, rarely allowing them an easy entry into his zone, and often finishing checks along the way. The hulking defenseman may be NHL-ready as soon as next season.
5. Karel Vejmelka, HC Pardubice (Czech U20)
6’3″, 203 pounds, Trebic, CZE
NHL CSS Ranking: NR
Last season, he was ranked as the 15th-best European option but was not selected, but Karel Vejmelka improved to become a more complete goaltender this season. Formerly one who simply used his size and positioning, Vejmelka improved his athletic ability and anticipation thanks in part to famed Czech goalie Dominik Hasek, who imparted his knowledge throughout the season.
4. Louis-Philip Guindon, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
6’1″, 181 pounds, Montreal, QC
NHL CSS Ranking: NR
Louis-Philip Guindon enjoyed a bit of a renaissance this season after a midseason trade sent him to Rimouski, where a return to his career average should help his draft stock. He has been clutch in the playoffs, running up a perfect 11-0-0 record with a 1.57 goals-against average and .937 save percentage as the Oceanic does battle with the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL Championship series.
3. Jordan Papirny, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
6’1” 170 pounds, Edmonton, AB
NHL CSS Ranking: #28 (N.A.)
The Brandon Wheat Kings made the WHL Championship round, and there is no doubting that Jordan Papirny has been a key part of that. Papirny finished in the top 10 among all WHL goaltenders in wins, goals-against average, save percentage, and shutouts, a fine step ahead for a player learning how to compete on a daily basis.
2. Joey Daccord, Cushing Academy (USHS)
6’3″, 190 pounds, North Andover, MA
NHL CSS Ranking: #10 (N.A.)
The son of a former NHL goaltending consultant Brian Daccord, the younger Daccord is a technical goaltender with very solid fundamentals. His athleticism and mental awareness should guide an NHL team in his direction, giving him time to develop in Sioux City of the USHL before he heads to Arizona State in 2016-17.
1. Liam Herbst, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
6’3”, 181 pounds, Mississauga, ON
NHL CSS Ranking: #11 (N.A.)
Two devastating injuries derailed the career of Liam Herbst, but an injury-free campaign has him back on track. Herbst appeared in 39 OHL games for Ottawa this season and was very capable, showing off his athleticism and unique ability to track the puck through traffic. He was named to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, a nice reward for a player climbing back up the draft charts.
Stay tuned as the next NHL Draft Primer will focus on North American skaters ranked from 99-75.
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