Anthony DeAngelo brings tools — and baggage — to the draft. (NHL.com)
With the NHL draft on the horizon, it’s time to take a look at the mock drafts put together by NHL.com Staff Writers. Adam Kimelman, Mike Morreale and Steven Hoffner each wrote their takes, which were published in early April. We’ve taken the liberty to combine their picks and assemble a mock draft that closely resembles all three. In addition, we’ll discuss which picks make sense for which teams along the way, taking each article five picks at a time.
The writers tended to closely agree through the first few picks, but it gets interesting as the draft wears on. In order to put together a proper list, we’ve used some simple math, adding up their rankings in each respective mock and dividing it by three. For tie breakers, we’ve thrown a fourth number (the player’s final ISS ranking) into the mix.
21. Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia Sting (OHL) – St. Louis Blues: Where DeAngelo comes off the board in the draft depends on how much teams like his game and are willing to put up with a potentially serious attitude problem. With that said, he could go anywhere from inside the top 15 to somewhere in the third round.
At 5′11″, 175 pounds, DeAngelo is by no means a big defenseman. However, what he lacks in size, he makes up for in talent and ability. He’s a very smooth skater with explosive offensive ability, as you can see in the video below. The young defenseman is quick and elusive and a pure offensive blueliner if there ever was one. The downside is that his size makes it easy for opposing forwards to out-muscle him and he’s certainly not as good defensively as he is on the attack. Fortunately, his 15 goals and 71 points partially atone for an abysmal negative-34 rating in 51 games.
St. Louis has one of the best defensive corps in the league, but the prospect pool lacks an offensive punch from the blue line. DeAngelo may be just the man for the job.
22. Kevin Fiala, LW, HV 71 (Sweden) – Pittsburgh Penguins: Many of the players within the Penguins’ system are high risk-high reward projects. Fiala is no different.
Not known as the most defensively aware player — not to mention slightly undersized at 5′10″, 180 — Fiala had an encouraging draft season, scoring three goals and eight assists for 11 points with a negative-2 rating in 17 games with the Swedish Elite League’s HV71 after 25 points in 27 games with their junior club. He was even better in the playoffs, scoring a goal, six points and a plus-5 rating in eight games.
Fiala’s coming out party, however, was on the national stage, when he scored five goals and 14 points in 10 games for Team Switzerland between the Under-18 and Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championships. As anyone can tell, he has the offensive ability of a game-changer. Fiala has a complete arsenal of tools and tricks that make him a fun player to watch. The youngster is creative and shifty, with excellent play-making and shooting skills. He’ll fit in well with Pittsburgh.
23. Robert Fabbri, C, Guelph Storm (OHL) – Colorado Avalanche: Fabbri isn’t a big or even stocky centre at 5′10″, 170, but the kid has been known to be a relentless “buzz saw” that isn’t afraid to go up against big defenders with blazing speed and an unwavering determination. His size would be a concern otherwise, but it’s a minor disadvantage thanks to his pure talent and ability.
In 58 games with the eventual OHL champs this season, Fabbri scored an astounding 45 goals and 87 points with a plus-45 rating while adding 13 goals and 28 points in 16 playoff games. The kid gets results and has a knack for putting the biscuit in the basket. While it’s going to take a while for him to develop into a legitimate top-six NHL forward, he’s the perfect addition to any prospect pool, which is why the Avs will be very happy to snatch him up with the 23rd overall pick.
24. Adrian Kempe, C/LW, Modo (Sweden) – Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks are projected to have picked one Swede earlier in the draft in Willie Nylander, so why not select another?
Kempe won’t turn 18 until right around training camp in the fall, but he’s already got great size at 6′2″, 187. The young forward doesn’t have the offensive upside of many players already that will be drafted above, but he’s got the size, physical and defensive ability of a top-nine shutdown NHL forward.
In 45 games with Modo of the SEL, Kempe notched five goals and six assists for 11 points with a plus-5 rating while playing against grown men in mainly a fourth line role. However, he did show some intriguing offensive ability with three goals and 16 assists for 19 points with a plus-6 rating in 20 games with Modo’s junior club.
With a little bit of seasoning, Kempe has the potential to develop into a fine third line defensive staple that can also contribute as a secondary scoring source. He’s definitely worth taking with a second first round pick such as the Ducks find themselves with.
25. Nikita Scherbak, LW, Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – Boston Bruins: Highly talented Russian skaters fall from the top of the draft tree every year, hitting every branch on the way down until finally finding one that holds up. If Scherbak falls all the way to 25th, the Bruins will be that strong branch.
As a WHL rookie, the intriguing young Russian was clearly Saskatoon’s best player game in and game out, scoring 28 goals and 78 points with a negative-6 rating in 65 games while outscoring his next closest teammate by 35 points. He’s not the best skater, but he uses his size, strength and natural offensive ability to his advantage, though his play-making skills are highly under appreciated because Scherbak had to do everything himself.
The “Russian Factor” — when teams are afraid to draft Russians because of the potential for them to go home to play for more money in the motherland — will cause his stock to fall significantly, but it may be worth it for the Bruins. Known more as a rugged, shutdown team, Boston has lacked an elite player at forward for many years, and Scherbak definitely has the potential to fill that job opening. Someone is going to take a chance on this kid — it might as well be the Bruins.
We’re almost done! Part VI is coming up shortly.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which NHL draft prospects you are tracking.