Breaking down Nashville’s selections in the 2019 Draft, Part II
What can Nashville expect from its top two picks, and more?
Yesterday I wrote part one of this series detailing scouting reports of each of Nashville’s eight picks at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. If you haven’t had a chance to yet, you can read that here. Today, I’ll wrap up things with the final four picks, including Nashville’s first two selections this weekend.
Once again I’ve posted Bryan’s (@projpatsummitt) visualization below using data from Manny Perry, Prashanth Iyer, and Colin Cudmore to understand the likelihood of NHL production for these prospects (Manny has created a Wins Above Replacement model, Prashanth has built a similar model including pre-draft seasons, and Colin compiled draft rankings from 60 different sources).
(You’ll have to scroll down to see every player, and if you’re on mobile or a narrower computer screen you may have to scroll right as well.)
With those projection visualizations established, continue below to dive into a thorough scouting report on each player.
Philip Tomasino - F - 24th Overall
Niagara IceDogs [OHL] - 2001 - Mississauga, Ontario
By now I’ve written rather extensively about Tomasino, so I apologize if I’m being overly repetitive. Simply put, he’s an exciting player. There was concern that he hid behind a lethal top line in Niagara that had deep offensive skill, but I don’t see it like that. Despite finishing sixth in scoring on the team, he tied for fourth in OHL scoring among draft-eligible players. He was a point-per-game player before Jason Robertson came over in a blockbuster trade with Kingston, and 30 of his 34 goals came at even strength as he was pushed down the power play depth chart.
With the 24th pick, the @PredsNHL get center Philip Tomasino. Congrats, Phil. Nashville is a fun place. https://t.co/Jr1nbR9MCd #2019NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/K9L2cehS1f— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) June 22, 2019
When it comes to Tomasino’s play relative to his CHL peers, he was in elite company in expected goals, primary assists, and primary shot assists, meaning that despite his more middle-six ice time, he was one of the best conductors of offense on Niagara (often and with a wide range of teammates) and across the CHL.
You will also notice below, per Mitch Brown’s tracking project, that Tomasino was excellent at controlled zone entries and maintaining possession for his team, being in the 95th percentile for Corsi for per 60 minutes.
Tomasino’s Scouting Report
|Excellent speed and a good separation gear||Can maybe shoot more but is an excellent playmaker|
|Fantastic puckhandler and can do so at top speed||Could mature his skills out of a cycle to match those off the rush|
|Top-notch offensive awareness||Needs to work at hammering down his skill but can be dominant|
In the clip above, Tomasino—#26 in white—displays one of the facets of his game that’s so exciting. He has such a great ability to push back defenders with the pace he enters the zone with while carrying the puck. I think you would like to see him re-engage a bit more after the shot on net, but that’s more about maturation and playmaking than anything.
Above we get an excellent look at Tomasino’s separation gear. Additionally, he has such finesse with his stick and has really mastered one-touch passes and quick moves to redirect the puck, as he does through the defender’s legs, above.
I think Tomasino has room to mature his puck support game. He’s got such good acceleration that it can look like he isn’t really engaged when acting as a third forward or waiting for a breakout through the neutral zone. I really like the play above, however, and how he recovers from his first shot and goes to plan B—a centering pass.
Egor Afanasyev - F - 45th Overall
Muskegon Lumberjacks [USHL] - 2001 - Tver, Russia
Afanasyev’s fall to the second round at all, let alone to 45th overall, was a surprising one to me. I had him ranked just outside the top 31 but was convinced someone was likely to grab him in the first. Instead, here we are—Nashville was able to grab incredible value in round two.
Afanasyev is a 6’4” winger who will play for Windsor in the OHL next season after two seasons in the USHL. He led Muskegon with 62 points this season which placed him tenth league-wide, too. 48 of those 62 points were primary ones, and he shot just a shade over 12% while averaging 3.69 shots per game.
What’s curious to me about Afanasyev is his relation to the CHL eligibility rule. Despite committing to Windsor before the NHL draft, Afanasyev should be considered to have been drafted out of the USHL, which means he’s AHL eligible. In theory, if Nashville wanted to, they could pull him from the OHL after one season and send him to Milwaukee. The last case I can find of this happening was Patrick Sieloff, who went to the AHL in 2013-14 after one season in Windsor and being drafted from the U.S. NTDP (s/o Jake Baskin).
Afanasyev’s Scouting Report
|Good size and puck protection abilities||Passing abilities can improve out of the cycle|
|Excellent stickhandler||Skating stride is okay but isn't relied upon for zone entries|
|Hard, accurate shots; knows how to shoot for rebounds||Sometimes too patient with the puck in the offensive zone|
Afanasyev—#11 in black—displays his more lumbering stride in the clip above. You’ll notice how hard he’s driving down into the ice without kicking out. But he still makes his way up the ice swiftly, creates space for his teammate, and sets up the opportunity for a good scoring chance.
His passing needs work, but Afanasyev is still an effective playmaker. He’s got a good touch with the puck that stems from his stickhandling, and displayed a good ability to break from a deke for a go-ahead pass this season.
Afanasyev’s finish is the most exciting part of his game. He’s very deliberate with his dekes and uses his long wingspan to get defenders moving side to side and then skate by them.
Semyon Chistyakov - D - 117th Overall
Tolpar Ufa [MHL] - 2001 - Yekaterinburg, Russia
I was thrilled to see Chistyakov selected at 117 by Nashville in what could be a sneaky value pick. Similar to Juuso Pärssinen below, Chistyakov didn’t pop off the page often this season, but I saw an impressive drive and commitment to his skills in a number of viewings. He understands his strengths as a player and forces them on his opponents, with the foundation being excellent skating.
His pedestrian 11 points in 32 MHL games this season with Tolpar was okay, tied for fourth among defenders on the team. But his international play impressed both offensively and defensively—in particular at the U18 World Junior Championship and the World Junior A Hockey Championship in December.
Chistyakov’s Scouting Report
|Quick a propelling turnovers into the transition game||Needs to better controlled zone entries|
|Low to the ice, fluid skating stride||Can get too eager with his hands and stick|
|Good passer and good neutral zone possession abilities||More stagnant on the power play than need be|
Right off the hop of the gold-medal game at the U18 WJC, Chistyakov—#6 in white—makes a good defensive play, closing his gap and forcing a dump-in. Then you see how quickly he pivots from deep in the zone, receives a pass, and initiates the transition with a long stretch pass.
Above is Chistyakov on the penalty kill. I appreciate his aggressiveness as someone who expands out from the “collapsing” box set-up; I like the tendency to challenge those shooters inside the face-off dots and disrupt those lanes. You can see his excellent lateral ability and recovery, although the net-front scramble was not textbook defense by Team Russia.
Interestingly enough, above is Chistyakov playing as the slot man on the power play. I often despise vague terms like this, but he’s such a battler for each puck. Above is a demonstration of a monster possession shift by Russia where they force several giveaways to maintain zone presence and Chistyakov is relevant to nearly all of them, while also garnering several scoring chances. I think he has offensive abilities to spare, and I’m curious to see how his placement on the depth chart next season displays those.
Ethan Haider - G - 148th Overall
Minnesota Magicians [NAHL] - 2001 - Maple Grove, Minnesota
Haider was described as the 11th-best ranked North American goaltender, but likely the best in the NAHL (where Nashville drafted Tomáš Vomáčka out of), this season. In 37 appearances, Haider won 19 games and finished ninth in the league with a 0.926 save percentage; he added three shutouts to those numbers, too.
Haider was an All-NAHL First Team Rookie this season with the Minnesota Magicians. He faced 1115 shots against this season and allowed 82 goals—the fewest of the 20 NAHL goalies with over 20 appearances this season. That play helped him record 15.0 goals saved above average for the Magicians.
Haider’s Souting Report
|Good technical positioning||Can bunch his upper body too tightly in his stance|
|Covers the post well in a stand-up position||Five-hole can be exploited|
|Impressive cross-body glove ability||Interesting forward hunch in his stance|
In the clip above, you will likely notice the interesting hunch Haider plays with in his stance. He doesn’t play super aggressively out of his crease often and a has a more centered than expressive upper body when in position.
Above, Haider tracks the puck well from his post. I’ve noticed a good amount of active stickwork from him in several showings—and not in a traditional sense but actively working to use his blade angle to his advantage. Unfortunately, he doesn’t cover the puck quick enough here.
Haider has an effective sliding technique and his positioning in the crease allows him to steal a goal or two, like the absurd save above.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, NAHL.com, and prospect-stats.com.