With the 2014 NHL Draft set for June 27-28 in Philadelphia, Kris Baker from SabresProspects.com has meticulously compiled his list of the top 30 players. We'll reveal two players each weekday complete with analysis and video, leading up to the unveiling of Kris' top two picks on June 20.
The full mock draft as it's revealed can be found here.
#20 – ROBBY FABBRI
C, Guelph Storm (OHL)
5’ 10.25”, 170 lbs.
2013-14: 58 games, 45-42-87, 55 PIM
Speedy and instinctive, the highly-skilled Fabbri totes a smallish frame but plays with a ton of heart. While Fabbri’s edgy motor has endeared himself to the scouting community, the hallmark of his game is his pure offense.
He’s extremely slippery with the puck on his stick and knows where to go without it. Bundle in a lightning-quick release, and the compelling package clicked to the tune of 45 goals in 58 games this past season for Guelph.
With his star already on the rise, Fabbri rounded out his resume in the playoffs with 28 points (13+15) to claim MVP honors as the Storm defeated North Bay to win the OHL Championship. Fabbri would go on to score six points (2+4) in four Memorial Cup games, including one goal and one assist in Guelph’s title game loss to Edmonton.
Coached by former NHL forward Scott Walker, Fabbri regularly draws the praise of the Guelph staff for his unique combination of peskiness, desire, and patience with the puck.
The NHL game is often dominated by big bodies down the low, but every now and then a player with below-average size emerges with the blend of skill and will. With continued strength development, Fabbri’s seam-splitting wheels and sharp-shooting hands could see him become a game-breaking scorer at the pro level.
#19 – JULIUS HONKA
D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
5’ 10.75”, 180 lbs.
2013-14, 62 games, 16-40-56, 52 PIM
A skilled, agile defender with high-end offensive talents, Honka affirmed his status as an elite draft prospect in 2013-14 with a 16 goals and 56 points in his first tour of North American hockey with the WHL’s Broncos.
Sandwiched in between the productive rookie campaign was an excellent all-around performance with gold-medal winning Finland at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Defensively, Honka counters his lack of ideal size and reach by exhibiting gritty tendencies and smart use of his stick. The Finnish defender is not afraid of making contact when competing, but the hallmark of his style is sparking the transition game.
Modeling his game after Ottawa standout Erik Karlsson, Honka is very quick yet calm when moving the puck out of his zone. His up-ice vision is perhaps the best in the class, while his crisp passing and his sharp accurate point shots proved to be a major factor on the power play. His superb skating allows for good recovery when he follows the play deep in the offensive zone.
The mobility and smarts are in place, so continuing to work on his attention to detail in his own end of the ice should see Honka achieve his long-term projection as a top-four NHL defender.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the season on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.