Below I’ve mocked what Nashville’s draft board could look like in the fifth round, with players who will likely be available and would be worthwhile to target.
Nashville’s Draft Board: Round 5
|Manix Landry||C||Gatineau Olympiqes||QMJHL||29||10||13||23||2002|
|Jacob Guévin||D||Muskegon Lumberjacks||USHL||53||7||38||45||2003|
|Marcus Almquist||F||HV71 J20||J20 Nationell||19||10||13||23||2003|
|James Malatesta||C||Québec Remparts||QMJHL||32||10||13||23||2003|
Gatineau Olympiques [QMJHL] | C | 5’11”, 179 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
One of the older players in this draft class, Landry has developed a reputation as a reliable, hard-working forward over three seasons with Gatineau. The Olympiques’ captain this season scored ten goals and 23 points in 29 games, putting him third on the team in scoring.
Among draft-eligible QMJHL forwards, Landry ranked 14th in primary points per game (0.621) and 19th in even-strength primary points per game (0.379). Since coming to the QMJHL as a 16-year old, Landry has never become an elite scorer—topping out at 15 goals in 2019-20—but he’s brought a consistent game each night.
It might be odd for a player who outscored his potential first-round pick teammate, Zach Dean, to be available this late, but I get the sense not many teams are super high on Landry. Regardless, I think he’s easily worth a fifth-round pick. Landry nearly made my top-96 ranking, but I ultimately left him off due to an extremely low ceiling skill-wise.
He doesn’t have amazing skating mechanics or top-end speed, leading him to often be reactive to opposing plays. But he’s extremely responsible in all three zones; he doesn’t just make 1-on-1 puck battles miserable in the defensive zone, he makes them miserable in the offensive zone too. He reads breakouts well and can advance the puck through the neutral zone, but will likely rely on others to take things from there. He’s an underrated passer and can get creative in how he manipulates defenders without an elite accelerating gear.
If he makes it to the NHL, Landry can play center or wing and will carve out a career as a bottom-six forward who gives no one an extra inch.
Muskegon Lumberjacks [USHL] | D | 5’11”, 181 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
Guévin is another player who I can’t get a read from NHL teams on. Surely you’d think a defender who put up nearly a point per game in the USHL this season would generate tons of interest, but I can’t predict where Guévin will go.
In his first full USHL season, he notched seven goals and 45 points in 53 games for Muskegon—first among team defenders and tied for fifth among all Lumberjacks skaters. Among USHL draft-eligible defenders, Guévin was fifth in primary points per game (0.434) and third in even-strength primary points per game (0.340)—behind Brent Johnson and Luke Hughes.
Skating-wise, Guévin is all right. There are inconsistencies in his mechanics that differ from transition plays to defensive plays, and he lacks an accelerating gear that will help him separate from forwards in the NHL. All of that can translate into some poor decisions or panicking under pressure, but overall, Guévin delivers with the puck.
He leads rushes well and can be an excellent complementary player in transition. When he picks up a giveaway or successfully closes off an opposing forward, he often makes smart, efficient passes up-ice to reverse play and set teammates up for success. On offense, he succeeds in getting forceful wrist shots on-net and looks to project as a nice weapon on an NHL team’s power play too.
HV71 J20 [J20 Nationell] | F | 5’7”, 168 lbs. | OTF Rank: 72
The first thing that stands out about Marcus Almquist is his height—he’s generously 5’7”. The second thing that stands out is that had he been born two days later, he wouldn’t be eligible until the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
On the ice, what stands out is Almquist’s scoring punch. In 19 games with HV71’s junior squad, he scored ten goals and 23 points this season and then added five more goals in 19 games in Denmark’s professional league.
Among all draft-eligible J20 Nationell forwards, Almquist finished fourth in primary points per game (0.947) and fifth in even-strength primary points per game (0.632)—behind only Strömgren, Olausson, Robertsson, and Rosén.
Given his size, Almquist is a slippery player who can find seams and open ice in the offensive zone well behind even the best of defenses. He uses effective edge control and good crossover steps to move quickly with and without the puck and can connect passes and make creative plays at top speed.
He’ll need to improve his puck protection skills and forechecking plans, and he’ll naturally struggle in puck battles at the pro level. But there could be an underrated NHL scoring threat to be found in Marcus Almquist.
Québec Remparts [QMJHL] | C | 5’9”, 179 lbs. | OTF Rank: NA
Continuing with the theme of undersized forwards is James Malatesta. The Remparts forward is another player I’m struggling to get a read on: some view him as a third-round talent and others don’t see him as highly. I’m in the latter camp.
This season, Malatesta followed up his 45-point QMJHL rookie campaign with ten goals and 23 points in 32 games—fourth on Québec in scoring. Among draft-eligible QMJHL forwards, Malatesta was 16th in primary points per game (0.594) and 18th in even-strength primary points per game (0.406).
Similar to Almquist in a sense, Malatesta plays with a relentless motor. He can get nearly anywhere on the ice ahead of whoever is chasing him or the puck, but his downside comes when he gets where he’s going.
While I love his tenacity and puck skill, he works himself into dead ends too often, skates himself out of cut lanes to high-danger areas, and misses passing opportunities. He manages the puck with his head down and one mission only: get to the net. That can be fruitful sometimes, but he’ll need to develop better awareness and quicker decision-making and execution skills to take full advantage of his stick-handling and scoring touch.