2018 NHL Draft Preview: WHL defensive talent on display
Produced by the WHL in partnership with BC Tree Fruits, “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” is a multipart series highlighting the next generation of WHL stars set to embark on a journey pursuing NHL dreams. “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” can be seen monthly at WHL.ca, featuring a key member of the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft Class. Together, the WHL and BC Tree Fruits are “Growing the Game’s Best Talent.”
The WHL has 41 players and four goaltenders featured on the NHL Central Scouting Draft Rankings heading into the 2018 NHL Draft. Below are our WHL representatives:
Smith’s stock rose throughout the season as he notched 73 points (14G-59A) in 69 games to help the Spokane Chiefs to their best season since 2012-13. Rarely can a coach talk about a 17-year-old like he’s a true pro, yet that’s exactly what Chiefs coach Dan Lambert does. With experience in the World Juniors and WHL, Ty is looking to add leadership and offense to any team that’s drafts him.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenceman posted 37 points (7G-30A) in his second season in the WHL. The Russian born left-hand shot added five points in three playoff games. Alexeyev also has international experience, competing for Russia. His game has taken tremendous strides on the smaller North American ice and will be a solid two-way defenceman.
The Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman may have fell a few slots after missing 28 games this season to injury, yet he remains one of the best defenceman in his draft class. The 6-foot 205-pound right hand shot has shown glimpses of his offensive capabilities, scoring 25 points (9G-16A) in 44 games, yet he remains known for his two-way play, recording a plus +/- 29 this season.
Addison has always been seen for his offensive abilities and he’s shown them again this season, posting 65 points (11G-54A) in 68 games during the regular season. Yet it was his playoff performance that raised him into the spotlight as the right shot defenceman recorded another 19 points (7G-12A) in just 16 games. While his season in Lethbridge ended with disappointment after a third-round exit, Addison will not disappoint the team who selects him.
The Slovakian forward is coming off his first season in North America that saw him score 32 points (10G-22A) in 39 games. He recorded another six points (3G-3A) in seven playoff appearances. The 6-foot, 188-pound forward has lots of international experience, representing his country on many occasions. The former 6th overall pick of the Giants at the CHL Import Draft will look to add offence to the team that selects him.
Stotts got a fresh start after getting traded to the Calgary Hitmen mid-season. He took full advantage recording 41 points (17G-24A) in 47 matches. The 6-foot, 168-pound forward has used the second half of his season to jump 37 spots in the rank. The Winnipeg native will be a good addition to any team looking to add scoring and leadership.
Reichel, like Stotts, saw the second half of his season push his ranking from the 80th slot to 53. Unlike those before, he comes into this draft as a 20-year-old, eligible to play one more season with Red Deer. After failing to get drafted out of the Czech Republic, the 6-foot-1 forward moved to Canada to improve both his game, and his exposure. This has proved to be the right decision as Reichel scored 34 goals in 63 contests, finishing this season with 57 points.
Like Reichel, Kral left the Czech Republic to join the WHL this season, where he recorded 35 points (9G-26A) in 54 games. The 6-foot-1, 171-pound defenceman joins the list of WHL defenceman in this draft with his two-way play. An ability to contribute offensively but a strong commitment to defence elevated his play, making him a perfect fit for any team.
Topping started to impress at a young age, posting 225 points (68G-157A) in 62 games in the Vancouver Island bantam Hockey League. He was drafted by Kelowna as is known for his solid 200-foot game. As a solid two-way forward, it was unexpected that he averaged almost a point per game this season, posting 65 points (22G-43A) in 66 games. The team that drafts Topping is going to get solid play in all three zones and may get an offensive uptick as well.
Zamula, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound defenceman from Russia plays a solid defensive game. He does have offensive potential, scoring 26 points (3G-23A) in 36 games in the Russian Under-17 league two seasons ago. Yet he prefers to play a physical brand of hockey. Zamula just finished his first year in North America, recording 18 points (2G-16A) in 69 games. He is good on the penalty kill and is a solid blue liner for most situations.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) June 20, 2018
Fonstad excelled in his second season in the WHL, more than doubling his offensive output from his rookie season. The 5-foot-11, 163-pound forward recorded 73 points (21G-52A) in 72 games, helping the Prince Albert Raiders make a last month push into the playoffs. Fonstad has a high ceiling as he is starting to dictate the play for his club, turning into their go-to guy. With the progression he has made, it is likely he will surpass his totals again next season, solidifying him as a top-six talent.
Wylie has cemented himself as an excellent two-way player this season, recording 31 points (6G-25A) and a plus +/- 12 in 72 games. He added eight points in 22 games helping his team reach the WHL Finals where a heartbreaking loss saw their season come to an end. The Everett product was used in all situations and has continued his growth into a solid two-way defenceman.
The Belarus native, who joined the WHL in the 2016-17 season, had an outstanding offensive season, recording 41 points (13G-28A) in 63 games with the Calgary Hitmen. The 6-foot, 185-pound defenceman graduated to the top line this season, cementing his play as a puck moving defender. The right hand shot also recorded 10 multi-point games this season, four more than he had last season.
HTV: “It’s really amazing to talk to NHL scouts and their advice helps me improve my game.” pic.twitter.com/Uq671U4CQP
— Calgary Hitmen (@WHLHitmen) June 18, 2018
The Sutter name has been around the WHL and NHL for a long time. Riley is the next to join that long list, but the 6-foot-3, 205-pound winger isn’t riding the family name, instead he is making his own path. After recording 53 points (25G-28A) in 68 games, Sutter took off in the playoffs, scoring 19 points (9G-10A) in 21 games. With his game getting stronger and faster, and hockey in his blood, Sutter will look to make an impact on whatever team drafts him.
The 5-foot-10, 163-pound forward had a career year in his first full season with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He recorded 98 points (43G-55A) in 72 games, finishing with a plus +/- 42 and only 10 penalty minutes. He added 13 points (6G-7A) in 14 playoff games. Almeida has shown his impressive all-around game, being defensively aware, disciplined, and can score and pass extremely well. He is the complete package for any team looking to add to their prospects.
Burzan split this past season between Moose Jaw and Brandon where he put up 40 points (15G-25A) in 72 games. He added seven points in 11 playoff games. The 6-foot, 185-pound forward is known for his speed and work ethic and is now getting recognition for his offensive play. A speedy center with dedication for the game and excellent defensive awareness is likely on many teams wish lists.
Wouters served as the assistant captain after a successful campaign in Saskatoon saw him record 51 points (18G-33A) in 72 games. The second-year Blade had 12 multi-point efforts, including a four-point night against division rivals Prince Albert in December. The 6-foot, 177-pound Center is a defensively aware and is good in all three zones of the ice. His offence has continued to increase without sacrificing his defensive play. Wouters is a great contributor across the ice and was nominated for the Scholastic Player of the Year.
The nominees for the 2017-18 Daryl (Doc) K. Seaman Memorial Trophy as the WHL Scholastic Player of the Year are @wouters_44 of the @BladesHockey and @_tysmith_24 of the @spokanechiefs! #WHLAwards pic.twitter.com/BpDuLeqOfH
— The WHL (@TheWHL) May 2, 2018
Chyzowski saw his offence more than quadruple from his rookie campaign, posting 52 points (21G-31A) in 72 games. He added four goals and five points in six games during Medicine Hat’s first round playoff exit. The 6-foot, 190-pound winger had 11 multi-point performances and loves the physical play. He is always the first one in the blue paint and is excellent on the penalty kill. The tough winger can score goals, pass well, and gives 100% in every situation.
Florchuk found a home in Saskatoon after being traded mid-season. Playing with former bantam and midget teammate Kirby Dach, Florchuk recorded 21 points (9G-12A) in 28 games. The Fort Saskatchewan product will be representing Canada in ball hockey this summer, as he cannot take his mind off the game. The 6-foot-1, 174-pound forward is looking to elevating his offence next season, while remaining responsible in his own end.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenceman from the Czech Republic finished his first season in North America with 19 points (2G-17A) in 72 games. Zabransky’s has offensive potential, but his ability to play against grown men is what stands out the most about him. Prior to joining the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL he played in men’s leagues in Czech Republic, a feat not many 17-year old’s can accomplish. The two-way defenceman with experience is highly touted.
Dewar is coming off his third season in Everett where he doubled his offence, posting 68 points (38G-30A) in 68 games. He added 26 points (12G-14A) in 22 games during the playoffs. The 5-foot-10, 177-pound winger does not shy away from physical play and has a tremendous ability to hit the back of the net. He is a player that many teams will have on their radar.
Reinhardt is a big winger who loves physical play. He scored 34 points (19G-15A) in 68 games with Brandon this season. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound forward has gotten faster and stronger, making him difficult to knock off the puck. The power forward is hoping to become more of an offensive contributor next season but is happy with his current role.
Leppard is a strong winger, standing at 6-foot-2, weighing 200-pounds. He recorded 36 points (15G-21A) in 68 games this season. The Vancouver product loves physical play and has good shooting and passing abilities as well. The power forward is difficult to play against and will look to improve his stats next season while remaining physical.
Kemp scored 36 points (17G-19A) in 69 games this season with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 6-foot, 165-pound forward had eight multi-point appearances and fired 104 shots on goal during the season. Of Kemp’s 17 goals, 13 of them were even strength and one was short-handed. Kemp plays in all situations and has turned into a good leader for the Oil Kings.
Stuart finished his rookie season with 38 points (16G-22A) in 70 games. The 5-foot-10, 167-pound winger scored five power play goals and fired 207 shots on net. He is averaging 0.52 points per game in his WHL career after posting 0.54 points per game this season.
Barteaux showed glimpses of his offensive talents last season, scoring 32 points (3G-29A) in 64 games. The left shot defenceman only had four points the previous season with no shots on goal. Last season, he recorded 84 shots on net and became a big part of Red Deer’s offence. The 6-foot-1 defenceman scored 0.50 points per game and is looking to add to his offensive totals next season.
— Red Deer Rebels (@Rebelshockey) April 16, 2018
The 6-foot-1, 186-pound defenceman is coming off his first season in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. He recorded seven points in 51 games but was a plus +/- 11 during the regular season and a plus +/- 5 in the playoffs. His defensive awareness and large structure make him an excellent defenceman.
John Ludvig’s 2017-18 Season:
• +11 (2nd among WHL rookies)
• Teddy Bear Toss Goal
• First Career Playoff Goal
• Dominating Physicality
Ludvig is this week’s Winterhawks Player Spotlight! pic.twitter.com/e9zmCRruw0
— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) June 16, 2018
Johnson is coming off an excellent rookie campaign with Tri-City where he posted 48 points (17G-31A) in 68 games. He added 13 points (5G-8A) in 14 games during the playoffs. The 6-foot-2, 183-pound winger plays a responsible, physical game and has shown glimpses of his offensive capabilities.
The 6-foot, 180-pound center recorded 17 points (7G-10A) in 32 games after being traded to Calgary. The seventh overall pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft is an integral part of Calgary’s rebuild as they look to make the playoffs this season.
Mattson recorded 60 points (25G-35A) in 63 games last season. The 6-foot, 200-pound winger was part of a potent offence by the Kelowna Rockets. With 13 multi-point performances, the Thompson Manitoba product is highlighted by scored two goals and two assists for four points against Vancouver this March.
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) November 18, 2017
Loewen had a coming out party last season, increasing his points total from 17 the previous year to 64 (36G-28A). The 6-foot-4, 220-pound winger is a force, playing a physical style while finding the back of the net on a regular basis. The power forward was born in Jamaica but was adopted by a family in Manitoba, where he fell in love with the game of hockey and has gotten very good at it.
The 6-foot-2, 200lb winger is coming off his first 30-goal campaign where he posted 53 points in 72 games. While he was passed on at last years draft he’s hoping this year holds something else in store. The Edmonton native was clutch scoring 10 power play goals and five game-winning goals.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound forward recorded 16 points (9G-7A) in 72 games last season. He plays a physical style and isn’t afraid to stand up for his teammates. The Richmond product a solid two-way player.
Bodak played his first season in North America in 2017-18. He recorded 31 points (7G-24A) in 59 games for an average of 0.53 points per game. Prior to joining the NHL Bodak played in Finland. The Slovak has also represented his country on many occasions, adding to his impressive resume.
McDonald will hope for better luck this year around as he was passed at the NHL Draft last year. He recorded 66 points (34G-32A) in 68 games last season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward loves the physical game and is powerful on his skates. He is hard to knock off the puck and gives 100% every time he is on the ice.
Zummack is fresh off his second WHL season with Spokane. He recorded 41 points (15G-26A) in 58 games adding five points (2G-3A) in seven playoff appearances. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward is disciplined and quick. He plays a fast game and is an excellent passer.
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) February 21, 2018
Plouffe was passed on at last year’s NHL Draft but has had an excellent season with Vancouver posting 40 points (9G-31A) in 60 games. The 6-foot, 195-pound defenceman is physical and responsible in his own end.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenceman had another impressive season with the Swift Current Broncos, who he won the Ed Chynoweth Cup with. He’s recorded 93 points (21G-72A) over the past two seasons. Add that to a plus +/- 65 over that span and you’ll see why his teammates enjoy playing with him. He contributes to offence but is very responsible defensively.
The 2000-born defenceman recorded 18 points (2G-16A) in a defensive role for the Red Deer Rebels this past season. The 6-foot, 185-pound defenceman plays a tight-checking game and is good in the defensive zone.
Pachal plays a physical brand of hockey but has shown glimpses of offence as well. He recorded 26 points (7G-19A) in 68 games last season for Prince Albert, where he served as an Alternate Captain. He added four more points in seven playoff games.
— Prince Albert Raiders (@PARaidersHockey) January 6, 2018
Chase split his season between Moose Jaw and Brandon where he recorded 25 points (3G-22A) in 58 games. The 6-foot, 190-pound defenceman had two multipoint efforts in November.
NHL Central Scouting Final Draft Rankings – Goaltenders
Hofer won the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Swift Current backing up Edmonton Oilers Prospect Stuart Skinner. While he was the backup he had a 8-3-1 record, posting a 0.914 save percentage and one shutout. He came in for relief in one playoff game, stopping 14 of 16 shots. Even with this small sample size, it’s clear the Winnipeg native has the skill to be a great goalie.
Tendeck got the starting position in Vancouver last year, where he posted a 3.02 goals against average and a 0.912 SVS%. He finished the season with a 25-16-3 record and three shutouts. The 6-foot-2 goaltender was also named to the WHL Western Second All-Star Team last season.
Paddock took over the starting job after the trade deadline saw 20-year old Tyler Brown shipped to the Blades. Paddock stood up to the test, going 19-7-2 with a 2.90 GAA and a 0.904 SVS%. As the host of the Memorial Cup, the 6-foot-2 goaltenders team qualified, and he backstopped them to a semi-final exit with a .908 SVS%.
McGovern was traded to Kootenay where he got 34 starts, posting a 3.10 GAA and a 0.893 SVS%. He finished the season with a record of 13-13-3 with two shutouts. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound goaltender hopes to see more full-time action next season.