It’s just past the middle of March, the CHL is entering their playoffs, the NCAA is on the road to the Frozen Four, and Auston Matthews is at his cottage, what better time to do a quick update on the current state of the Consolidated Draft Rankings.
Since our last update on March 2nd, we’ve had Sportsnet (Damien Cox) and Craig Button of TSN submit revised rankings. The two outlets took very different approaches as Sportsnet remained relatively stable in their rankings and Button decided to scorch the earth his fiery new takes. The latter had some impact on the consolidated rankings as you’ll see…
THE CONSOLIDATED RANKINGS
Given the fact that there are nine sources for these rankings (Draftbuzz, ISS, Future Considerations, Bob McKenzie, Corey Pronman, Sportsnet, Craig Button, McKeens, and Hockeyprospect.com) Button has been able to cause significant shift on his own.
He has single-handedly put Samuel Girard in the Top 30, and he’s the one source that has excluded Max Jones from his Top 30 (he sits 35th on Button’s list). Of course, differing views being captured here are the entire point, and generally there is not much consensus outside of the top 20 in this draft.
Sportsnet carried on the proud post Top Prospects tradition of moving Dubois up in their standings, but the only new name on the list is Rasmus Asplund, who replaces Tyler Benson, the victim of a season ending injury that has also taken him off the Consolidated Top 30.
Gone from Button’s Top 30 this month are Max Jones, Logan Stanley, Tyler Benson, and Brett Howden. The first two being consistent members of most other lists out there. Button has also joined the church of Pierre Dubois, as well as Jake Bean who has consistently moved up the rankings throughout the season. The addition of Luke Kunin to Button’s list now makes him a unanimous first rounder across our rankings, but at the expense of Jones no longer being one.
Laberge also seems to be enjoying a bump from the prospects game, since these are the first rankings Button has released since Pascal’s strong showing there. Logan Brown is another player who has now creeped into being a unanimous first rounder thanks to Button.
The other interest thing on this January to March comparison is the drop we’re seeing in Julien Gauthier. Button has moved him 11 spots lower. In that time Button has added Kunin and Laberge to his list and placed them higher, as well as no longer views Gauthier as strongly as players like Dillon Dube, Taylor Raddysh, or Mitchell Mattson. This is a fascinating development.
I reached out to Tom Hunter for his thoughts on a couple of Craig Button’s favourites:
Cam Dineen is one of the more underrated offensive defensemen in this year’s draft. He finished the season second behind only Mikhail Sergachev (ahead of Chychrun & Juolevi) in primary points per game among eligible defenders. What makes Dineen’s point total even more impressive is that this was his rookie season in the OHL. After deciding to break his commitment to play for Yale, Dineen came to North Bay as a somewhat unheralded 11th round selection that had all kinds of raw talent but needed to learn how to play the game “the right way”. He’s given a ton of credit to head coach Stan Butler who has spent the time to help Dineen use his hockey instincts to be more than just a on dimensional player. He’s still the most impactful when he’s skating with the puck on his stick, but Dineen has grown leaps and bounds in his own end this season.
Dineen is a pass-first player who has looked great setting up his partner Kyle Wood all season. A Power Play quarterback who has the ability to control the play every time the puck is on his stick, Dineen has the talent level that could make him a “how did he drop so far” candidate. Comparisons have been made to Shayne Gostisbehere, and the way the Flyers rookie has been tearing up the NHL might give a team picking in the late first/early second round the excuse they need to ‘reach’ on Dineen. He’s still raw and will need time to develop a more all-around game but Dineen is one of a few defenders ranked in the 30-45 range that are going to make some teams very happy.
Taylor Raddysh is a guy that scouts have very different opinions on. Some downplay his season because he’s playing on a line with the best center in the OHL, but others recognize that he has the skill set that could translate well to the pro level. While not a high end offensive talent, Raddysh has the type of low-maintenance, ‘simple’ game that would make him a more conservative pick, especially for a team with multiple second round picks.
He doesn’t have an eye-popping point total but when you look at the underlying numbers, Raddysh was very productive this season. He finished third among draft eligible OHL wingers in even-strength primary points per game, producing more than sure fire top-10 picks Matthew Tkachuk and Alex Nylander.
Raddysh has a big frame and is very good at using it to protect the puck. He’s a smart player that sees the ice well and has a shot that allows him to capitalize on scoring chances. He plays well down low and has the ability to win battles against the boards. He has the ability to adapt his style to the game situation and has the sense that will likely allow him to be a bottom-6 NHLer if his skills don’t allow him to be more.
We’re now about six weeks out from the draft lottery and potentially the Leafs will have a very easy decision to make with their pick, hopefully coming in the form of Auston Matthews, but with the Penguins First Round pick some new concerns are popping up.
Before there was worry over if the Pens would even make the playoffs, but that carried with it the reward of a potential pick in the mid teens for the Leafs, but now the Pens are surging and that pick could find itself falling into the 20s, where the talent drop off begins to occur. Potentially Toronto still walks away with a talented scorer like DeBrincat, or a solid defender like Logan Stanley, but it’s not the same as chasing down Charlie McAvoy or German Rubtsov as potential Leafs.
The comforting fact is that someone will always fall in the draft and someone will always reach. Craig Button’s list is a great example of what happens when you really reach. The Bruins at the 2015 draft are better example of that in practice. With wildcards like that, I trust the Leafs to do just fine in what isn’t the deepest of drafts.