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.
#28 – NICK SCHMALTZ
C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
5'11.5'', 172 lbs.
2013-14: 55 games, 18-45-63, 16 PIM
Schmaltz, whose flashy hands and patience when assessing the play make him a dangerous offensive weapon, staked his claim to a first-round spot back in October with a dominating performance for Team USA in October’s World Junior ‘A’ Challenge.
Dominant is not over-selling it either, as the Green Bay Gamblers star forward controlled the play on nearly every shift while potting four goals and a tournament-record 12 points in four games to lead the United States to the gold medal. The offense continued with his home club in Green Bay, where he finished the year with 18 goals and 63 points in 55 games.
A native of Verona, Wis., Schmaltz is a very smart and calculated player who uses a smooth skating style to get space and put his great wrist shot to work. Schmaltz’s natural goal scoring and balanced playmaking from all areas of the ice give him a future as legit NHL scoring line option, but first he’ll need to hit the weights and focus on tightening up his defensive assignments during his enrollment at the University of North Dakota.
Schmaltz will join his brother Jordan, a 2012 first-round pick by St. Louis, in Grand Forks.
#27 – THATCHER DEMKO
G, Boston College Eagles (NCAA)
6’ 3.75”, 192 lbs.
2013-14: 24 games,16-5-3 record, .919 SV%, 2.24 GAA
In even numbered years since 2006, a goaltender has been taken in the first round of the draft.
Regardless of that particular trend, goalies with long limbs and good fundamentals are always a high commodity. The California-born Demko cemented his high draft grade on the merit of a 16-5-3 record, 2.24 GAA, and .919 save% as a true freshman in the ultra-competitive Hockey East.
The top goalie prospect earned several honors along the way, including the National Rookie of the Month for January, a unanimous selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, and the title of Hockey East “Stop It” Goaltending Champion.
Demko is very composed in the crease, using his size to his advantage and waiting to go down while relying on his excellent puck tracking and square positioning to make quality stops. Demko’s body control prevents the opposition from getting two for the price of one, and his above-average quickness for a goaltender of his size allows for good recovery skills when the occasional rebounds pop out past the reach out his defensemen.
Demko, who posted a 30-minute shutout at the 2013 All-American Prospects Game in September, is expected to man the net for Team USA at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Canada.
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.