We’re just two days away from the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, so I will be highlighting some options for two of Nashville’s seven picks this weekend. Below you can check out who I pegged for rounds five through seven:
With Nashville having two picks this round just eight slots apart, I thought I would combine these two installments into one larger list.
Finally, once again, my disclaimer about these players:
My method here is to identify players who I think will be available at this selection and who I think present the best value. Therefore, this exercise doesn’t account for the trading of any picks or the whims of other general managers. With several hundred draft-eligible players, it’s very likely none of these players end up being Nashville’s pick. Bear that in mind as you read further.
Linkoping HC J20 [SuperElit] - 2000 - D - Stockholm, Sweden
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 21st - European Skaters
2018-19 Stats: 25 GP / 2 G / 15 A / 17 PTS
Lundmark is a fascinating player with a 2000 birth year. Not only did he score 17 points in 25 games in the top junior league in Sweden this year, but he appeared in 28 games for Linkoping in the SHL, too, averaging over 13 minutes of ice time per game (shout-out to @ryanbiech). Speaking of Ryan, check out his excellent analysis of Lundmark’s potential here.
Lundmark’s 17 points with Linkoping’s J20 squad led all defenders despite playing nearly 20 games less than Albert Lyckasen, second on that list. He was 13th among undrafted defenders in the SuperElit this season in points per game with 0.68.
In the above clip, Lundmark (in white) carries the puck from behind the net for a clean controlled zone exit. You will notice he has a good skating stride and makes a heads-up pass through the neutral zone to spring a high-danger chance.
Above, Lundmark—again with the puck—utilizes a good crossover step and decent acceleration to escort the puck through the defensive and neutral zones. I very much appreciate his dump-in on net, and he retains position well once the opponent gains possession.
Lundmark is a smart player who projects to be a good-skating, bottom-four defender. I am interested to see his offensive production when playing in the SHL full-time.
Sodertalje SK J20 [SuperElit] - 2001 - C - Stockholm, Sweden
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 79th - European Skaters
2018-19 Stats: 43 GP / 21 G / 22 A / 43 PTS
Feuk played all over the place this season but notably had 43 games in the SuperElit with Sodertalje SK and five games with the same club in the Allsvenskan. He was a point-per-game player in the SuperElit, leading his team and ranking him 14th among all skaters in the SuperElit.
I’ve seen Feuk ranked from the seventh round all the way to the third, but I really like the edge he plays with and decided these slots would be a decent time to shoot for him. I didn’t get to watch Feuk much this year, so I will let Anton Johansson provide some footage below.
Feuk is a creative player with above-average hands for a center who will throw his body around a bit and who racked up 84 penalty minutes this season. He has a good offensive instinct around the net but is also a well-paced skater with the puck when entering the zone.
He has a really sound technique with his wrist and snap shots despite using what looks like a longer shaft for his stick.
Tolpar Ufa [MHL] - 2001 - D - Yekaterinburg, Russia
On The Forecheck Rank: 71st - All Skaters
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 16th - European Skaters
2018-19 Stats: 32 GP / 1 G / 10 A / 11 PTS
Chistyakov is a fascinating player to me who I think has a chance to make it to the next level mostly due to his skating—it’s fantastic. He’s under six feet, but he’s so elusive and has excellent edge work. He plays physical and didn’t score a ton for Ufa this year. Here’s what I wrote about him in my draft rankings:
“Chistyakov is good for a reliable transition up to the blue line often; his pivots up ice with the puck were very impressive. But he doesn’t bring much else to the table besides a tendency to hit often.”
In the below clip, Chistyakov is number six in red acting as the power play quarterback for Team Russia. You can see from how quickly he operates that he’s a natural passer, and I think, in part, that is what limits his offense.
In this clip, Chistyakov is in white in front of the net. He does a decent job of pestering his man defensively and engaging with his stick, but you can notice he is bobbing around for better sight lines often, too.
Chilliwack Chiefs [BCHL] - 2001 - C - Regina, Saskatchewan
On The Forecheck Rank: 87th - All Skaters
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 80th - North American Skaters
2018-19 Stats: 51 GP / 33 G / 25 A / 58 PTS
Blaisdell just finished his second season with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL and will head off to the University of North Dakota for the 2020-21 season. He was third on the Chiefs in scoring behind two overage players and third league-wide among U18 skaters behind top-15 pick Alex Newhook and his linemate Alexander Campbell.
Where Blaisdell really impressed me this season was at the U19 World Junior A Challenge, playing for Canada West and recording four goals and five points in six games.
In the clip above, Blaisdell (#12 in red) picks up a nice faceoff win and maintains good defensive positioning and puck support before sensing a zone exit. Then he displays his long skating stride and acceleration and buries the puck home.
My favorite part of Blaisdell’s game isn’t his skating but how he forces time and space. He doesn’t engage physically to get open for spaces, but instead, he opens up lanes with how he directs the offensive zone. Above, he does just that and finds himself enough space to utilize his lethal snap/ wrist shot.
Chaska High [USHS - MN] - 2001 - LW - Chaska, Minnesota
On The Forecheck Rank: 67th - All Skaters
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 98th - North American Skaters
2018-19 Stats: 25 GP / 28 G / 33 A / 61 PTS
If I told you Rhett Pitlick plays the game almost exactly like his brother, Rem Pitlick, would you be surprised? Probably not. They’re near-identical forwards and Rhett will follow his brother at the University of Minnesota in 2020. This season, he led the Chaska Hawks in scoring and committed just four penalties all season. He was tied for 12th in state scoring but also added five points in seven games with Omaha in his USHL debut.
Pitlick, #12 in purple, displays his quick feet with an aggressive crossover step. He gets a quick snapshot off that’s blocked but recovers the rebound and does a nice evasive move, anticipating his teammate would be by the dot for another shot attempt.
This kid oozes elite stick-handling skill and he knows it. I love the no-look pass he attempts after digging the puck out, and then completing a saucer pass that far up the zone? Very impressive.
Pitlick is a ways away from the NHL, but he has so much talent it would be inexcusable for him not to be an option.
Flint Firebirds [OHL] - 2001 - LW - Whitby, Ontario
NHL Central Scouting Rank: 74th - North American Skaters
2018-19 Stats: 68 GP / 30 G / 29 A / 59 PTS
Keppen finished his second OHL season with 59 points, which tied him for second on the Firebirds with Jacob Durham and behind Ty Dellandrea. Those are good numbers on a bad Firebirds team, but Keppen struggled defensively at times and it’s clear the team as a whole was poor at maintaining neutral-zone possession, as seen below:
His Corsi measurements and controlled zone exits aren’t fantastic, but he scored 30 goals and was probably a good reason why Flint scored the rest of theirs this season. In fact, we can use Evan Oppenheimer’s “Betweenness” measurement to find out, and oh wow...in all situations, Keppen was dominant at creating chances for Flint. Betweenness is a measurement indicating, if a player scores highly, that they score and assist often and assist on many distinct teammates’ goals throughout the season.
Flint Firebirds betweenness— Evan Oppenheimer (@OppenheimerEvan) December 24, 2018
That's the Eric Uba and Ethan Keppen's team. FYI Vlad Kolyochonok's betweenness will be 0 until he scores at least 1 goal. pic.twitter.com/heEN561e5P
A staggering 51 of his 59 points this season were primary ones and he only shot at a 14.08% rate with over 200 pucks on net.
Keppen plays a responsible game as a 200-foot power forward. He’s got a hard, well-placed shot and combines that with good stick-handling and skill in tight situations.
Aside from doing whatever it takes to fight for open space and time, Keppen is smart with the puck and his shot. Check that out above as he pulls up the defender and places a shot perfectly for a rebound.
Layton Ahac (D) - Prince George Spruce Kings [BCHL] - 53 GP / 4 G / 32 PTS
Mikhail Abramov (F) - Victoriaville Tigres [QMJHL] - 62 GP / 16 G / 54 PTS
Martin Hugo Has (D) - Tappara U20 [Jr. A SM-liiga] - 37 GP / 9 G / 16 PTS
Marshall Warren (D) - U.S. NTDP [USHL] - 84 GP / 12 G / 47 PTS
Mike Koster (D) - Chaska High [USHS - MN] - 24 GP / 19 G / 59 PTS