A note on the rankings. NHL Central Scouting breaks players into four categories: North American skaters and goaltenders; European skaters and goaltenders. Some of the independent and media services – Red Line Report and the Hockey News for example– rank all players together in one list. Others rank skaters and goaltenders separately.
This is part six of the series which is looking at 60 prospects (and a few more) leading up to the draft.
Born: May 6, 1997 in Zurich, Switzerland
2014-15 Team: ZSC Lions (NLA)
12 (Europe) – NHL Central Scouting
56 – International Scouting Services
76 – Red Line Report
32 – TSN
79 – The Hockey News
47 – ESPN
47 – Future Considerations
Spent most of the season with ZSC in the top league in Switzerland, registering three assists in 41 games. Named to All-Star team at 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship after registering four assists in seven games for Switzerland. Tallied one assist in six games for Swiss at 2015 World Junior Championship.
“In your face type of player, plays the body, good physical presence - lots of ice time, a player that plays well against other teams best players, uses his options well under pressure. Played power play but not as confident as his defensive play, needs to get his puck skills to the next level.” – Anders Steen, International Scouting Services
Born: May 28, 1997 in Kosice, Slovakia
2014-15 Team: Kosice (Slovakia)
16 (Europe) – NHL Central Scouting
42 – International Scouting Services
111 – Red Line Report
41 – TSN
99 – The Hockey News
20 – ESPN
90 – Future Considerations
Played in the top league in Slovakia, registering 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 41 games. Had one assist in seven playoff games as Kosice won league championship. Was injured in playoffs and missed 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship. Had two assists in six games and won bronze medal with Slovakia at 2015 World Junior Championship.
“His tool kit is extremely appealing, and he has a raw upside that's sky high: He projects to skate and handle the puck at above-average NHL levels. Cernak is also a physical defender who can make defensive stops as well as play a part on a team's power play. His main issue is his hockey IQ, as he shows a moderate frequency to make bad decisions on hits, pinches and puck decisions. At the top of his game, he can look like a dominant two-way defenseman, but that is not always the guy who shows up.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN
Born: July 21, 1997 in Longueuil, Quebec
2014-15 Team: Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
41 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
46 – International Scouting Services
54 – Red Line Report
48 – TSN
63 – The Hockey News
67 – ESPN
58 – Future Considerations
Served as captain of Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL and led team defensemen in scoring with 28 points (four goals, 24 assists) in 63 games. Registered one assist in seven games for Canada at 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship and won bronze medal. Won gold medal at 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, picking up three assists in five games.
“Very fluid skating marks his game. His quickness and mobility allow him to defend very well and to beat the pressures that opponents are trying to apply. Smart, reads the play well and makes very solid plays with the puck. He’s not going to overwhelm you with great skill or physical play but he has excellent consistency, reliability and efficiency.” – Craig Button, TSN
Born: October 10, 1996 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
2014-15 Team: Brandon (WHL)
24 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
94 – International Scouting Services
48 – Red Line Report
55 – TSN
100 – The Hockey News
50 – ESPN
70 – Future Considerations
Registered 52 points (11 goals, 41 assists) in 68 games with Brandon of the WHL. Had 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 19 playoff games as Wheat Kings advanced to WHL championship series. Was defense partner of Ivan Provorov, who is expected to be a top pick in this year’s draft. Nephew of former NHL player Rich Pilon.
"The thing that stands out for me with Pilon is how well he manages the puck. He's a very smart player who makes very good puck decisions and has real good vision. He can pick apart the forecheck. … He uses his smarts, reach and puck skill and he's not a guy with a real confrontational style. He's a good complement to a more active type of player, like a Provorov.” – John Williams, NHL Central Scouting
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
Born: October 31, 1996 in Stockholm, Sweden
2014-15 Team: Omaha (USHL)
31 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
55 – International Scouting Services
70 – Red Line Report
52 – TSN
57 – The Hockey News
40 – ESPN
69 – Future Considerations
Native of Sweden led Omaha (USHL) in scoring with 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) in 50 games. Named to USHL Third All-Star Team. Committed to Boston University for 2015-16 season.
“You win with guys like this. Does all the little things it takes to win. Good face off %, work ethic, strong on the puck, protects the puck well.” – Steve Cocker, International Scouting Services
Position: Left Wing
Born: September 16, 1996 in Kamloops, British Columbia
2014-15 Team: Seattle (WHL)
71 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
50 – International Scouting Services
103 – Red Line Report
56 – TSN
55 – The Hockey News
54 – ESPN
54 – Future Considerations
Led Seattle (WHL) in goals (30) and points (58) in 67 games. Registered eight points (one goal, seven assists) in six playoff games.
“There’s a lot of promise in his size – if he uses it correctly. ‘He’s a leanbodied, swift-skating winger who can really fire the puck,’ said one scout. “Needs to get to the net at the next level.” That’s what is most vexing for talent hawks right now. Gropp clearly has the size and skill to make a difference, but they’d like to see more nastiness out of him. ‘Really good skater – he can twist and turn away from guys,” said another scout. “Soft hands, quick release on his snap shot. My concern is his competitiveness and battle level.’” – The Hockey News Draft Preview 2015
Born: March 24, 1997 in Guelph, Ontario
2014-15 Team: Peterborough (OHL)
68 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
70 – International Scouting Services
43 – Red Line Report
50 – TSN
89 – The Hockey News
73 – ESPN
45 – Future Considerations
Registered 30 points (six goals, 24 assists) in 67 games for Peterborough (OHL). Picked up one goal in five playoff games. Played for Canada at 2015 U-18 World Junior Championship, picking up two assists in seven games and winning a bronze medal. Won a gold medal at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, registering one assist in five games.
“He’s a big kid with surprisingly nimble feet and good offensive instincts. He is able to stick with smaller, quicker forwards in coverage in tight space, and able to physically handle bigger forwards on the cycle down low. Good physicality and puck movement. Supports the puck and makes himself an outlet for his D-partner. Has a booming, heavy point shot.” – Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide
Position: Center/Left Wing
Born: January 13, 1997 in Chelyabinsk, Russia
2014-15 Team: Gatineau (QMJHL)
48 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
59 – International Scouting Services
36 – Red Line Report
68 – TSN
43 – The Hockey News
78 – ESPN
48 – Future Considerations
Russian native finished fifth in rookie scoring in QMJHL, registering 67 points (18 goals, 49 assists) in 58 games with Gatineau. Led team in playoff scoring with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 11 games.
“Continues to play a steady game. Producing at both ends of the ice. Works hard and competes but not overly physical. Plays big minutes on both special teams and centers the top line. More of a playmaker than shooter. Skating looks a bit rough.” – Jack Higgins, International Scouting Services
Mitchell Vande Sompel
Born: February 11, 1997 in London, Ontario
2014-15 Team: Oshawa (OHL)
34 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
74 – International Scouting Services
74 – Red Line Report
63 – TSN
36 – The Hockey News
25 – ESPN
41 – Future Considerations
Ranked fifth among OHL defensemen with 63 points (12 goals, 51 assists) in 58 games for Oshawa. Registered 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 21 playoff games as Oshawa won the OHL championship. Picked up two assists in four games as Oshawa won Memorial Cup.
“Overall, we love his puckhandling ability, natural offensive instincts, and power play acumen. But what happens when he’s forced to play man-on-man down low in his own zone, shift after shift, against much bigger players? At his best when the puck is on his stick.” – Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide
Born: October 27, 1996 in Malmo, Sweden
2014-15 Team: Barrie (OHL)
93 (North America) – NHL Central Scouting
107 – International Scouting Services
51 – Red Line Report
59 – TSN
44 – The Hockey News
27 – ESPN
50 – Future Considerations
Ranked third among OHL defensemen in scoring with 64 points (12 goals, 52 assists) in 67 games with Barrie. Registered four points (one goal, three assists) in nine playoff games. Named to OHL Second All-Star Team.
“He's a dynamic offensive talent with great puck skills, especially for a player with a pro-sized frame. He has an aggressive, attacking style of play and loves to have the puck on his stick. In terms of power-play skills, his combination of IQ, skill and a big shot makes him one of the top offensive defensemen in the class. The red flags are his lackluster defensive play in terms of his off-puck reads, up-and-down effort levels, being too aggressive offensively and his habit of getting beat with speed at times.” – Corey Pronman, ESPN
ANOTHER TEN TO WATCH
Here are a few more notable prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Austin Wagner, LW, 6-1/178, Regina (WHL)
Speedy winger registered 39 points (20 goals, 19 assists) in 61 games for Regina of the WHL. Scouts say he could be one of the fastest skaters in the draft.
Roope Hintz, LW, 6-3/191, Ilves (Finland)
Versatile forward played for Ilves in Finland’s top league, registering 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 42 games. Can play center or wing and up and down the lineup.
Nikita Korostelev, RW, 6-1/195, Sarnia (OHL)
Russian winger has played last two seasons in North America with Sarnia of OHL. Led Sarnia with 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) in 55 games last season. Missed time with shoulder injury. Excellent offensive skills, but some scouts worry about his skating.
Julius Nattinen, C, 6-2/191, JYP (Finland-2)
Played in the second level of Finnish hockey, registering 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 39 games. Playmaking center with good skillset, but still raw.
Jens Looke, RW, 6-0/180, Brynas (SHL)
Smooth skating winger played for Brynas in Sweden’s top league, registering six points (two goals, four assists) in 42 games. The Hockey News Draft Guide summed up Looke this way: “Some scouts like his size and skating ability. Others don’t see much of an NHL prospect.”
Michael Spacek, RW, 5-11/187, Pardubice (Czech)
Spent most of the season with Pardubice in Czech Republic’s top league, registering 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 40 games. Picked up seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games at 2015 U-18 WJC. Skilled forward with good offensive instincts.
Parker Wotherspoon, D, 6-0/171, Tri-City (WHL)
Registered 42 points (nine goals, 33 assists) in 72 games for Tri-City of WHL. Tallied five points for Canada at 2015 U-18 WJC, co-leading Canada in defense scoring. Smooth skating two-way defenseman. His brother, Tyler Wotherspoon, plays for the Calgary Flames.
Callum Booth, G, 6-3/199, Quebec (QMJHL)
Played 41 games for Quebec, posting a 23-13-2 record, 3.05 goals-against average and .900 save percentage with Quebec. Became backup in January when Remparts acquired Zachary Fucale. “He has excellent positional play and net coverage and is strong in all areas. He has great instincts and reads and reacts to plays very well,” said NHL Central Scouting’s Al Jensen.
Samuel Montembeault, G, 6-2/173, Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)
Ranked second in the QMJHL with a 2.59 goals-against average and 12th with a .891 save percentage with Blainville-Boisbriand. “Has excellent focus and competitiveness. Plays angles very well, controls rebounds well. Good technique. Patient in the net,” said Phil Myre of International Scouting Services.
Matej Tomek, G, 6-2/180, Topeka (NAHL)
The Czech native ranked second in the NAHL with a 1.83 goals-against average and fifth with a .928 save percentage in 33 games with Topeka. Committed to University of North Dakota for 2015-16 season. “Long, lean, flexible netminder who is fluid in all his movements. Has the agility and balance of a cat. He’s calm under pressure and very quiet in the net, with little wasted motion,” said the Red Line Report 2015 Draft Guide.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.