It’s less than a month until the NHL draft, so let’s have some fun and answer some of your potential questions:
Samuel Grega (@samuel_grega): If all of Korchinski, Mateychuk and Mintyukov are available, who do you take and why?
This is an interesting trio of defenders and they are all in the second tier behind David Jiricek and Simon Nemec. All three of these defenders have some really interesting upside and offensive talents. Mintyukov is one of the most offensive blueliners in this year’s draft class. Possibly the most creative and unique defender in the draft, Mateychuk makes some really fun plays in the transition and offensive zones.
That leaves Korchinski. The Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman is one of the most elusive defensemen when it comes to recovering a puck on your own end. His escape ability is impressive as he uses his skating ability to find space and make a clean first pass. Korchinski can also use his skating ability to get the puck on the ice. Korchinski is also an extremely intelligent and precise passer from his own side. He is also able to create his own recording at times. Korchinski’s combination of size and dexterity along with his skating prowess make him one of the more projectable defenders in the class while also offering plenty of potential to grow even more as a defender.
tie smith (@TieSmith1069232): Do you have one or more late first/early second picks that you think could be among the top 5/10 picks in the draft class? So Pastrnak, Aho, Debrincat or even Sandin?
The first name that comes to mind is Ivan Miroshnichenko. The Russia winger is an excellent skater with a big throw and a physical edge in his game. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which unfortunately took him out of the second half of the season. Although his treatments have been completed and he has been cleared to resume hockey activities, it will likely go a long way to getting back to the form he was in during his draft minus one season. Could he be the top 5 player expected to come of the year? Certainly.
Jagger Firkus is another name worth mentioning here. He’s a video game player who brings wow factor to almost every game. His puck skills are among the best in his class with some of the best puck control of any prospect in hockey. He’s scored a ton of goals in the WHL this year and despite his size, he could have what it takes to be a top 10 player.
Seamus Casey is the last name I will address here. The USNTDP star defender is one of the most powerful blueliners in his class. His attacking game is fascinating, but he has seemed to be holding back at various times this year. He shows brilliant flashes as a puck mover in all three zones. His mobility and intelligence allow him to be effective in all three zones, but he needs to get stronger to improve his defensive play.
Josh Frojelin (@JoshFrojelin): Three 200-pound forecheckers coming into the zone at full speed. Which two defenders do you trust the most when it comes to the puck?
I’ll start with Korchinski for all of the above reasons. Contingency and the ability to be prepared with a Plan A, B, and C is very important in this scenario. The other defender I would pair with him is Simon Nemec. Nemec is one of the better transitional defenders in the draft and I feel like pairing these two would both play to each other’s strengths and cover up any weaknesses they have.
Nemec can sometimes panic under forechecking pressure below the goal line, so it would be beneficial if Korchinski could retrieve the puck and escape the first forechecker. Korchinski could then make the decision to find Nemec on the exit or beat the second attacker one-on-one with his mobility and quick hands. Depending on the space available, Korchinski could then send the puck to Nemec after pressure, allowing Nemec to effectively get the puck onto the ice, either via a pass or running out himself. That would be a nice duo.
A Number of People: How will the Russian invasion of Ukraine affect the stock of Russian players?
The reality of the situation is that due to Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, players coming from Russia are likely to be pushed down the draft board. Although the players have nothing to do with it, the Russian factor remained a thing long after the end, so the players from Russia qualified for this season’s draft will likely face similar situations as they did a decade or two ago. The top guys might just fall back a few spots, but anyone who projected outside of the first round is likely to fall pretty much off the board, justified or not.
Peter Krupsky (@PeteKrupsky): Lane Hutson is drafted in the first round; have warriors
(@habwarrior3000): What is Lane Hutson’s realistic NHL potential?
This has been a topic of discussion throughout the year. Lane Hutson is one of the most exciting, resourceful and experienced defensemen in this year’s draft. He is offensively intuitive and has the ability to make opponents look downright goofy. Hutson can miss an opponent at the blueline and thread a pass through layers of defense seemingly effortlessly. His defensive play improved over the year as he became more comfortable playing to his strengths and using his mobility and racquet to lead and disrupt play. He still has a long way to go, but the USNTDP star has been improving and impressing all year.
Why is this even a question? Well, the young American stands 5-foot-8 and doesn’t bring a physical element to play as a defender that some NHL rosters are put off. I personally think Hutson has the talent to overcome that. That aside, I think he falls by the end of the first round or the start of the second round. If he were 5-foot-11 we would be discussing Hutson as a top 15 talent or better. As for his potential, I think he can be a really good second pair defender who leans offensively and can play a power play. Think of a Sam Girard type player. Work defensive play based on strengths, excel at transitions, and be a creative and skillful offensive blueliner in 5v5 and with the man advantage.
Joel Henderson (@dathockeydoe): If you had to pick one hockey prospect to try peanut butter hot dogs, who would it be?
Everyone should try it, but if I had to pick just one, I think it would be Jagger Firkus. He’s a fun kid, and he seems like the type of guy who would really be into the unique beauty of hot dogs and peanut butter.
Jackson Edward (@JacksonEdward38): How likely is it that Savoie will fall out of the top 10?
He’s an undersized center and despite his incredible skill and talent, he still has some minor mental weaknesses and sometimes struggles to produce 5v5s. I would say it’s 50/50.
Chris M Craig (@Agent_Double0): What will the NJ Devils do with Pick #2 if Slafkovsky is gone?
Probably draft Logan Cooley or David Jiricek. I’d probably lean Cooley in the middle despite the depth. Hughes-Cooley-Hischier or any version of it would be unreal in today’s NHL. Jiricek would give them the young defender they desperately need.
Harris Barnes (@HarrisBarnes24): Is Mintyukov the biggest joker in the 1st round? Feels like it could be anywhere from 8 to 32.
Mintyukov is a very big joker. Gleb Trikozov is the other name that came to mind. Incredibly talented and could very well have a top 12 talent thanks to his incredible skill and attacking mindset. There’s so much from the fact he’s a Russian playing in Russia to teams scared of sheer ability that could bring him down. He was somewhere between 8 and 69 on notable public bodies.
Casey Dulson (@Casey_LeighD): Which potential customer do you think orders Hawaiian pizza?
Frank Nazar. The guy seems to like chaos and ordering Hawaiian pizza at a party would be just that.
Peter (@MVPete96): Would Berniers be the best prospect in this year’s draft if eligible?
He was my number 1 last year and would probably be number one on my board this year.