Among North American skaters rated in the middle rounds of the 2015 NHL Draft, there are a number of interesting defensemen available that have not yet garnered a consensus opinion over where they will be selected. The confusion is for good reason, as the mix features puck-movers, defensive defensemen, and steady, two-way players who control the game from the blueline.
Also in this group, a few dynamic forwards who impact the game in different ways are ready for the NHL to come calling.
97. Ethan Bear, Defenseman, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
6’0”, 203 pounds, Regina, SK
A steady rise up the NHL Central Scouting rankings put Ethan Bear firmly in the Top 100 at the end of the season. For good reason, too, as Bear has blossomed into more than just a prototypical WHL defenseman. He doubled his point production from his first season in the league, and became a true puck mover on the Thunderbirds blueline.
Bear received fantastic support from his family and friends in his hometown, Ochapowace Cree Nation, even after he moved to British Columbia to play in an advanced Bantam league. The versatile defender suited up for Canada’s U18 team this season, picking up a bronze medal at the 2015 U18 World Championship and gold at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
93. Rasmus Andersson, Defenseman, Barrie Colts (OHL)
6’0”, 209 pounds, Malmo, SWE
Opinions vary greatly in regards to Colts defenseman Rasmus Andersson. Once thought of as a potential first round pick, Andersson has fallen a bit, perhaps without reason. He brings an element of uncontrolled aggression, rushing the puck at times in situations that don’t call for it. However, his game-breaking ability can’t be ignored.
Andersson competed in his first OHL season after leaving Malmo behind, scoring 12 goals and assisting on 52 others in 67 games. Andersson moves the puck well and can keep up with the fastest OHL skaters, often drawing defensive assignments against the opposition’s best.
92. Dmytro Timashov, Left Wing, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
5’10”, 187 pounds, Kirovovograd, UKR
Perhaps one of the most creative players in the draft, Dmytro Timashov has been a dynamic offensive catalyst for Quebec. Timashov has long been considered a playmaker, often deferring to his linemates to shoot the puck, but the creativity and vision to put the puck into places previously unforeseen is largely unmatched by his counterparts.
Originally a native of Ukraine, Timashov moved to Sweden and played within the famed MODO organization before blessing the Remparts with his speed and ability. His production has slowed down a little bit in the playoffs, but he could be given a pass considering this is his first North American season and the quality of opponents has improved in the Remparts failed bid to win the QMJHL’s President’s Cup.
90. Grant Gabriele, Defenseman, U.S. U18 (NTDP)
6’1”, 168 pounds, Brighton, MI
With the U.S. U18 development team, it has been trial by fire for Grant Gabriele, who has faced USHL and NCAA competition, sometimes players more than five years older than him. Despite the challenge, Gabriele has looked good in those games, displaying a capable, calming influence on those around him.
Gabriele followed in the footsteps of former U.S. NTDP defensemen Jon Merrill and Jacob Trouba, two players who he patterns his game after. His steadily improving offensive game is a nice bonus for a defenseman who is headed to Western Michigan University in 2016-17.
89. Alexandre Carrier, Defenseman, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
5’11”, 168 pounds, Quebec, QC
With a brother, Samuel, who went before him and was selected in 2010 by the Washington Capitals, Alexandre Carrier has a good idea of what it takes to get to the next level. The diminutive, puck-moving defenseman excels when the game is being played at a fast pace, using his efficient skating stride to get out of trouble.
Carrier already carved out a role as a leader, having carried one of the Olympiques alternate captain assignments, and was a major reason why Gatineau advanced to the semi-finals. Carrier enjoyed a 55-point regular season, and added five more in 11 playoff games.
84. Taggart Corriveau, Right Wing, Westminster Prep (USHS)
6’0”, 163 pounds, Newington, CT
Among New England prep school players, Taggart Corriveau leads the group of five into the NHL Draft. Corriveau, a future commit to St. Lawrence University, recently finished his junior year with Westminster Prep at home in Connecticut. Corriveau was dangerous with the man advantage, resulting in a 24-goal, 17-assist season in 28 games.
He is a creative player, often preferring to stay wide and look over the situation in a composed manner, one trait that will benefit him moving forward. Corriveau was selected by the Waterloo Black Hawks during Phase Two of the USHL Entry Draft, and will likely forgo his senior season at Westminster in favor of the USHL before transferring to St. Lawrence in 2016-17.
81. Chris Martenet, Defenseman, London Knights (OHL)
6’7”, 196 pounds, Waukesha, WI
NHL organizations looking for a project with huge potential need look no further than hulking defenseman Chris Martenet. The former Shattuck St. Mary’s product competed in his first season in the OHL with the London Knights after winning a USHL Clark Cup championship with the Indiana Ice last year.
Martenet will never be relied upon for offensive production, but he has been a trustworthy defenseman on Dale Hunter’s blueline. He improved as the season wore on, and was deployed more often down the stretch. Assuming he fills out, Martenet’s raw ability and size will surely entice an NHL team, perhaps sooner than this ranking suggests.
78. Tyler Soy, Center, Victoria Royals (WHL)
6’0”, 170 pounds, Richmond, BC
The Victoria Royals were a deep offensive team this season, and Tyler Soy had to fight for his ice time. Soy worked his way up the lineup this season, preferring to pass the puck more often than not. Throughout the season, Soy managed 63 points in 69 games, solid totals for a player who may sneak his way into the second round.
Victoria was bounced from the playoffs by the eventual WHL champion Kelowna Rockets, but Soy’s season continued in Switzerland as he joined Canada’s U18 program. There, he gained valuable international experience, finishing with two assists in four games.
Stay tuned as the next NHL Draft Primer reviews North American skaters ranked 74-50.
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