Before diving into my rankings, I want to revisit the introduction I wrote for this project. If you missed it, I encourage you to pause and read it now. You can do so here.
As we proceed through this list, please keep in mind that these rankings are a combination of my scouting and the metric I created and detailed earlier. The metric will be listed as the ‘Prospect Ranking Score’ and does not exist on a scale aside from its own range. If you have questions about how certain things are weighed or why I ranked someone where, I will do my best to answer them in each post, but feel free to comment or tweet.
Because of how different positions are weighted, the rankings below won’t always follow a numeric order for the Prospect Ranking Score. It’s important to note, again, that that is only part of my analysis combined with my scouting and my views on each player’s ceiling (you will notice this immediately at #24, as goalies are on a very different scale than skaters).
With that said, dive in below for the first five ranked prospects.
#25: Lukas Craggs - LW - 23
Craggs was one of several additions to the organization this past off season as David Poile attempted to re-tool a scarce prospect pipeline. After two seasons in the USHL, Craggs played three at Bowling Green State University, leaving after his junior season in April to sign an entry-level contract.
The winger finished second on the team in 2018-19 with 106 shots on net and third with 13 goals, but led the nation in penalty minutes with a staggering 118.
|2016-17||Bowling Green State Univ.||NCAA||41||7||3||10||61|
|2017-18||Bowling Green State Univ.||NCAA||40||10||9||19||109|
|2018-19||Bowling Green State Univ.||NCAA||35||13||12||25||118|
Craggs isn’t an elite skater but has a first step to his skating that helps with acceleration. He’s an underrated passer and can run an offensive zone cycle by using his frame to his advantage. He has a strong north-south direction to his game but could display better discipline in his defensive zone coverage as a winger.
I think Craggs projects well as an NHL player, meaning he has a decent chance to make regular status, but I anticipate his ceiling is around the fourth line. In my model, Craggs received a boost for his primary point contribution, shots on net and relative scoring rate: only six of his points were secondary ones, and he was an integral member in driving possession for BGSU. But his infractions severely damaged his output in the rankings.
#24: Tomas Vomacka - G - 20
Vomacka has been heralded for a couple seasons now as Nashville’s best chance in net for the future. He excelled in the NAHL before his draft year and in the USHL in the season after before heading to college last season.
The Czech goalie was alright in his first collegiate season, receiving an increased workload as the season went on. He helped stabilize a poor Huskies team, but his advanced metrics suffered as a result.
With Adam Huska turning pro, Vomacka is the clear-cut starter in Storrs for 2019-20.
|2016-17||Corpus Christi Ice Rays||NAHL||41||19||2.43||0.923|
|2018-19||University of Connecticut||NCAA||15||7||2.32||0.922|
Vomacka maintains good positioning in net, has a wide range of depths he can defend at, and displays good mechanics overall. He can stand to tighten up some movements across the crease and with his glove hand, but he clearly has the tools to reach the NHL.
This will be a critical year for his development, but I think Vomacka still can project out as an NHL starter. His PR score hovers near zero due to his low quality-start rate and negative goals-scored-above-average number, but that’s expected for a team that struggled defensively like UConn did.
#23: Laurent Dauphin - C - 24
Dauphin was an excellent addition for the Admirals down the stretch this past season and ultimately outplayed his counterpart, Emil Pettersson, after swapping places. The AHL veteran notched 15 points in 27 games for Milwaukee stabilizing the center position.
Due to previous lack of depth in Arizona, Dauphin also has 35 games of NHL experience under his belt, and it’s easy to forget he is a solid call-up option with the bevy of ‘AAAA’ players the organization employs.
|2017-18||Tuscon/ Rockford IceHogs||AHL||50||9||20||29||66|
|2018-19||Tuscon/ Milwaukee Admirals||AHL||61||10||25||35||60|
Since he’s already established that he can play NHL minutes, Dauphin received a bump in my scoring for his probability to make full-time NHL status. Aside from that, he contributed well on special teams this year (five power-play and shorthanded goals), shot the puck with good consistency, and maintained above-average defensive play, finishing the year as a positive possession driver despite tough minutes.
Dauphin’s ceiling is similarly low to Craggs; at this point, he’s close to mastered the AHL, but, if room clears out ahead of him, he could be a useful depth player in the coming few years.
#22: Niclas Westerholm - G - 22
Westerholm has spent some time flirting with the North American game since signing as a free agent in Nashville in spring of 2018. Before the 2018-19 season, he trained with the Admirals in Wisconsin and served as the third-string goalie for Nashville’s 2019 playoff run.
All signs point to that continuing as Westerholm will likely head to Nashville and Milwaukee for an extensive training camp next month. It’s a clear indicator at how invested the organization is in making him a legitimate NHL player.
He had a solid debut in Finland’s top league last season, appearing in 15 games, saving 0.4 goals above average, and finishing with a 66.7% quality start rate.
|2016-17||SaiPa U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||20||--||3.29||0.903|
|2017-18||SaiPa U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||28||--||2.42||0.926|
Westerholm will start for Saipa this season in the Liiga and should play in upwards of 30 games. It will be a good challenge to adjust some of his mechanics and settle further into the flows of a pro season schedule.
As a goalie who maintains precise control of his edges and has good cross-crease movement, Westerholm can focus on puck tracking and stance techniques this season before presumably coming to North America in the spring and for 2020-21.
The talent level of Connor Ingram isn’t quite there, but Westerholm has a legitimate path to being an NHL back-up should his development stay on track.
#21: Zach Magwood - C - 21
Magwood is likely the biggest surprise of the list so far. A development camp invitee in 2018, the former Barrie Colt scored an entry-level contract the next week and outperformed expectations in Milwaukee this season.
His 2018-19 included a brief stint in the ECHL with Atlanta, where he notched five points in 11 games. Although his 12 points in 44 games in Milwaukee may not see impressive and only half of those points were primary ones, Magwood shot with a decent scoring rate (all at even strength), rarely took a penalty, and was a massive asset at helping drive scoring in the bottom-six with a 13.7% Relative Goals-For rate (second-best on the team).
Magwood is a speedy forward who is versatile at center and on the wing. He has an adept ability to create good scoring chances and release difficult shots in the low-slot, high-danger areas, and that should improve his counting stats moving forward.
I would consider Magwood a long shot to become an NHL regular, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some growing pains this season in Milwaukee. But he impressed regularly in 2018-19 and, for that, has found his way into the top-25.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com