51. RD Nick Ebert – Windsor (OHL)
DOB: May 11/94 | Shoots: R | Height: 6.00 | Weight: 200lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRThe best way to describe Nick Ebert would be as a riddle wrapped into a mystery wrapped into an enigma. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best way, but you see where we’re going with this one. After Ryan Ellis graduated from the OHL last summer, Ebert was handed the reins to the Windsor defense and unfortunately looked downright lost at times. While he certainly is not lacking in the talent department, Ebert showed prolonged periods of inconsistency and an unwillingness to compete. When he’s on, his offensive skills are very good and his shot may be the best in the draft, but he only showed flashes of this upside this season. If Ebert can ever overcome some of his deficiencies he’ll have a great opportunity to be a good NHL player but he could just as easily continue to be plagued by inconsistency.
52. RW Tomas Hyka – Gatineau (QMJHL)
DOB: Mar. 23/93 | Shoots: R | Height: 5.11 | Weight: 175lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRAfter being passed over in 2011, Hyka came over to the QMJHL and immediately showed why he should have been picked last summer. Hyka is a very good playmaker who has a high skill level and great hockey sense. When given time and space, he can make teams pay and is a constant offensive threat. However his willingness to battle and absorb contact will ultimately be what makes or breaks his career. As it stands, Hyka definitely shies away from the dirty areas on the ice and can be neutralized by physical players. While it remains to be seen if this changes in the forthcoming seasons, Hyka does have significant talent and could be a great niche player who excels on the powerplay.
53. RW Brian Hart – Exeter Prep (HS-NH)
DOB: Nov. 25/93 | Shoots: R | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 190lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRLike most high school prep players on the East Coast, Hart flew under the radar of a lot of draft viewers this season. The lack of attention does not hide the fact Hart is arguably the best player to play at New Hampshire-based Exeter Academy. In his two seasons at Exeter, Hart set the scoring record for the most points in two consecutive seasons with 129 points in 57 games. Hart has great size at six-foot-two, 215 pounds and uses it to his full advantage. Hart needs to improve the defensive side of his game in order to be a complete player. The Harvard-bound Hart compares his game to Thomas Vanek, which is a good comparison stylistically although he does have less offensive upside.
54. RW Martin Frk – Halifax (QMJHL)
DOB: Nov. 5/93 | Shoots: R | Height: 6.00 | Weight: 204lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 33Like Ebert, Frk is also coming off a disappointing season where the one-time consensus Top 10 pick may not even hear his name called in the Top 60. On a team that had a lot of success, Frk missed out due to a concussion and also elected to skip over the World Juniors to recover from the injury. When he’s on his game, Frk is a physical forward who is a very capable goal scorer with a heavy shot. This season Frk definitely was off, however, and the number of scoring chances he was able to generate was down from a year ago. It goes without saying that there was some red flags raised this year regarding the Czech’s game.
55. G Jon Gillies – Indiana (USHL)
DOB: Jan. 22/94 | Catches: L | Height: 6.05 | Weight: 215lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRGillies is a huge goaltender who takes full advantage of his six-foot-five, 215 pound body. Gillies is not very agile in net, but does not necessarily have to be as he is very technically sound. He has a great glove hand and is tough to beat in the top corners of the net. It seemed like there were games this season where the flood gates would open if teams would score on him early. With two impressive seasons in Indiana, Gillies is set to make the transition to the college game and is likely take over the reins as the starter at Providence College this fall.
56. LC Cristoval “Boo” Nieves – Kent (HS-CT)
DOB: Jan. 23/93 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.03 | Weight: 185lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 48Nieves is one of the most interesting American prospects in terms of where he could go in this year’s NHL Draft. Nieves is a very good skater despite his size (six-foot-three, 185 pounds) and uses his speed to elude defenders. Nieves also has great hands and an above average shot. Many scouts were disappointed to see Nieves return to Kent (Conn.) School, but pleased scouts in his stint in Indiana (USHL), recording 10 points in 13 games. Nieves has already begun getting stronger this offseason, but still has a way to go before stepping on the ice with the University of Michigan next season. While Nieves has late first round talent, Nieves has major consistency problems which will likely scare teams away in day one of the draft. Nieves could be the ultimate boom or bust talent in this year’s draft.
57. D Jake McCabe – Wisconsin (WCHA)
DOB: Nov. 12/93 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 205lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRMuch like 37th ranked Phil Di Giuseppe, McCabe’s late birthday had him play out his draft year in the college ranks. The transition from the National Team Development Program to the older, stronger college game appeared to be an easy one for the Wisconsin defenseman. McCabe, who played with top NCAA defensemen John Ramage and Justin Schultz all season, is an agile defenseman who focuses on defense first with very under rated offensive abilities. He has a great shot and can be a great set up man on the power play. While his lack of physical play is amplified in playing college this season, McCabe was frequently getting out manned this season.
58. LW Daniil Zharkov – Belleville (OHL)
DOB: Feb. 6/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.03 | Weight: 200lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 44If you catch Zharkov on a good game, you might think you’re seeing one of the premier goal scorers in the 2012 NHL Draft. However, Zharkov’s enigmatic play leaves a lot to be desired as he struggled with consistency aside from an early season goal scoring streak. Zharkov is a perimeter player who doesn’t contribute much when he isn’t scoring. Scoring, however, is something that he is very capable of doing as Zharkov has an excellent shot and a slick repertoire of one-on-one moves. He’s a good skater and has promising size, but he doesn’t utilize these attributes enough. Zharkov can disappear against physical teams and will need to take his competitive drive to the next level if he wants to play at the NHL level.
59. LW Charles Hudon – Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
DOB: Jun. 23/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 5.09 | Weight: 170lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 25Hudon is a highly skilled forward who has produced at the QMJHL level despite concerns over his small stature and relatively average skating. The 5-foot-10 winger lacks explosive speed and his footwork is going to need to improve, but the raw offensive ability is intriguing. Hudon is a very creative player who is also a capable goal scorer. While he has been a strong point producer in the Q, his production flat lined this year and curbed some enthusiasm about his overall upside.
60. G Brandon Whitney – Victoriaville (QMJHL)
DOB: May 11/94 | Catches: L | Height: 6.05 | Weight: 195lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRWhitney had a very impressive rookie season in the QMJHL and became a dependable goaltender as a 17-year-old for the Tigres. An imposing goaltender, Whitney covers a lot of net and as he fills out, that coverage is only going to continue to expand. Perhaps what’s most intriguing about Whitney, however, is that he has above average quickness and very good reflexes for a goaltender of his size. Whitney needs to continue to improve his lateral mobility and refine his technique, but he has some good potential moving forward for a team looking to develop a long-term goaltender.
61. RC Gemel Smith – Owen Sound (OHL)
DOB: Apr. 16/94 | Shoots: R | Height: 5.10 | Weight: 160lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 47Gemel Smith is a player who is always the hardest worker on the ice. Given his stature he wins a lot of battles for the puck and is willing to throw himself into traffic at full speed to do so. His skating skills are top notch and his agility gives him the ability to dart in and out of traffic as he is often seen to be doing. Defensively, he can create turnovers with his tenacity and his good footwork. While not an overly intimidating player he does engage physically. The main downside to Gemel’s game is that it’s extremely hard to see where he fits in at an NHL level. He’s probably too small to be a grinder, but he’s likely not gifted offensively enough to win a top 6 role which could make him a bit of a tweener.
62. RW Sam Kurker – St. John’s Prep (HS-MA)
DOB: Apr. 8/94 | Shoots: R | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 208lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRKurker is a big winger who has seen his stock rise this season and could very well be a high 2nd round pick when it’s all said and done. The Boston University commit plays a strong north-south type style and displays a willingness to take the puck to the net and play with some grit. Kurker competes hard and more often than not wins a puck battle. He’s not the most natural offensive player in the draft, which is why we have him a little lower than some, but he’ll have some time develop in the NCAA.
63. G Matt Murray – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
DOB: May 25/94 | Catches: R | Height: 6.04 | Weight: 160lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRMurray looked great early in the OHL season before the Greyhounds made a blockbuster move to acquire Jack Campbell from the Windsor Spitfires. Playing in a backup role, Murray was inconsistent and struggled to regain his earlier form. He did, however, redeem his play with a strong showing at the Under 18’s for Team Canada which left a good taste in scout’s mouths. Murray is a lanky goalie who has a high ceiling, but he’s still very raw right now. His development is contingent on how he puts on weight and if he’s able to improve his strength and lateral ability. His reflexes and raw athleticism are compelling, and it will be interesting to see how he develops over the next few years.
64. D Esa Lindell – Jokerit U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
DOB: May 23/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.02 | Weight: 190lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRAs a 17-year-old, Lindell had a remarkable season in the Jr. A SM-Liiga, scoring at a point-per-game clip with 20 goals to boot. Lindell is a bit of a work in progress defensively, but there is some intriguing potential and he does have NHL size. The Finnish blueliner showed well at the Under 18’s and looks like a player that could be capable of playing a powerplay role in the NHL in the future as well. He’s gone under the radar a bit this year, but Lindell is a nice value pick in the 2nd round or early 3rd.
65. LW Andreas Athanasiou – London (OHL)
DOB: Aug. 6/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 175lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 38Despite doubling his goal total to 22 this year, it wasn’t the type of season scouts were hoping to see from Andreas Athanasiou. The 6-foot-1 speedster can be as dynamic as they come, but his inconsistency and extended periods of limited production saw him in the press box on several occasions as a healthy scratch. At this point, Athanasiou is a bit of an unknown commodity despite being heavily scouted. He’s likely one of the fastest skaters in the draft and has an ability to make moves at high speeds and score flashy highlight reel goals. Athanasiou’s play away from the puck leaves a lot to be desired and he tends to shy away from the dirty work, so a team drafting him will have to keep this in mind as it’s unlikely that he’ll suddenly change his playing style in this regard.
66. LC Robert Baillargeon – Indiana (USHL)
DOB: Nov. 26/93 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.00 | Weight: 175lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRNot many knew what to expect when Baillargeon left Cushing (Mass.) Academy to play his draft year for the Indiana Ice (USHL). When Baillargeon got out to his hot start with seven goals and eight assists in his first 15 games, draft followers quickly learned what Baillargeon brings to the table. The Boston University commit displays average skating ability, but makes up with a high hockey IQ. Baillargeon must improve his shot before moving into the college ranks in 2013 and with limited forward talent returning to Indiana, Baillargeon will surely improve in his goal scoring ability. Despite being listed as a center, Baillargeon played a lot of wing this season with two talented centers ahead of him. Baillargeon will transition back to his natural center position this fall.
67. LW Jujhar Khaira – Prince George (BCHL)
DOB: Aug. 13/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.02 | Weight: 190lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRKhaira was a standout in the BCHL this season, tallying 29 goals and 79 points in only 54 games as a sophomore. The powerful winger is an effective offensive player who can be difficult to get off the puck and creates a lot of his offense in this regard. Khaira is a very good playmaker and could probably stand to shoot the puck more, which is something he’ll hopefully improve on as he embarks on a collegiate career at Michigan Tech. Of note, Khaira’s WHL rights were recently traded to Everett, but it seems like Khaira is still intent on fulfilling his NCAA commitment.
68. LW Nikita Gusev – CSKA (MHL )
DOB: Jul. 8/92 | Shoots: L | Height: 5.09 | Weight: 165lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRGusev is a draft overager who oozes offensive talent and really showcased himself at the World Juniors this past Christmas. After a torrid season in the Russian MHL, Gusev will see full-time KHL duty with CSKA in 2012-13. While size is a concern for Gusev, the diminutive winger has exceptional creativity and is always a threat to create a scoring chance when he’s on the ice. Transfer concerns will be paramount when NHL teams are looking at Gusev, but he seems like a great opportunity for a team to roll the dice after the first couple rounds.
69. LD Brett Kulak – Vancouver (WHL)
DOB: Jan. 6/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 175lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRBrett Kulak quietly developed into one of the most reliable shutdown defensemen in the WHL this season, finishing first on the Giants (and just inside the top-20 in the league) in plus/minus. Kulak’s role was elevated late in the season as David Musil went down to injury, and the 17-year-old rookie seemed more than ready for the task, as he was challenged with facing the opposition’s top offensive players on a nightly basis. Kulak is a classic stay at home defender, who is a good skater and plays a no-nonsense game. He could use his body more effectively, but he more than makes up for his lack of physicality be using good stick position. Kulak also quietly added 9 goals for the Giants, perhaps a sign of future offensive potential.
70. LW Coda Gordon – Swift Current (WHL)
DOB: Aug.4/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.02 | Weight: 175lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRRookie Coda Gordon finished second in scoring for the Swift Current Broncos this year while netting an impressive 30 goals. Gordon has good size and scores most of his goals from the tough area right in front of the opposition net. Skating will be a major concern for any team selecting him on draft day, however with his quick release and willingness to battle in the trench, it may not hold him back altogether. Gordon burst onto the scene for the Broncos this year, and with the loss of leading scorer (and linemate)Taylor Vause, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to score at such a rapid pace next season.
71. LC Devin Shore – Whitby (OJHL)
DOB: Jul. 19/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.00 | Weight: 185lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRAfter playing Canadian Prep School a year ago, Shore made a seamless transition to the OJHL in 2011-12 being named the league’s Rookie-of-the-Year. Shore is a talented forward who has a high skill level and does a good job of creating offensive opportunities. Over the past couple of seasons he has bulked up which has helped him transition into junior hockey. Skating and zone awareness are areas where Shore needs to show improvement moving forward. His footspeed is very average amongst peers and he has a tendency to cheat the play which is not something that will be accepted as he advances. Shore is set to attend the University of Maine although his OHL rights are held by the Barrie Colts.
72. LD Dillon Fournier – Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
DOB: Jun. 15/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 175lbs TSR Midterm Rank: 58Fournier was the 1st overall pick in the 2010 QMJHL Entry Draft and was selected 1st overall in the Lewiston Dispersal Draft in 2011. Fournier is primarily an offensive defenseman and posted a respectable 38 points this season despite battling a shoulder injury. Fournier’s defensive zone coverage is a point of concern and he’s shown a tendency to get beat down low and have issues containing forwards. Despite these concerns, Fournier does project to be a potential offensive defenseman who could excel as a powerplay specialist at the next level.
73. LC Chandler Stephenson – Regina (WHL)
DOB: Apr. 22/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 5.11 | Weight: 195lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRRegina forward Chandler Stephenson has blazing speed, a great shot, is a good passer, and strong hockey sense. The biggest thing holding him back at this point seems to be a lack of consistency, as the budding star has yet to put everything together and become the complete package. Stephenson competes in all three zones, and oozes talent when he is on his game. A streaky scorer, Stephenson saw a slight dip in production after a mid-season knee injury that sidelined him for nearly 6 weeks, something that he’ll have to work hard to recover from heading into next season. The Pats would love to see Stephenson develop into the same kind of player as Jordan Eberle or Jordan Weal, something he’s entirely capable of – if he can pull it all together.
74. LD Brian Cooper – Fargo (USHL)
DOB: Nov. 1/93 | Shoots: L | Height: 5.10 | Weight: 180lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRCooper is a smooth skating offensive defenseman with solid vision and above average offensive skills. A 3rd year USHL player, Cooper will be off to the University of Nebraska at Omaha next year which will be a good gauge of how much NHL upside Cooper has. After a solid 2010-11 season, Cooper’s offensive game stagnated in 2011-12 and concerns over his size are not going away. While a team will have to acknowledge these risks, Cooper does play a confident style and shows the type of skill that could help him become a puck moving defenseman at the next level.
75. LC Ben Johnson – Windsor (OHL)
DOB: Jun. 7/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.00 | Weight: 170lbs TSR Midterm Rank: NRAfter signing with the Windsor Spitfires as a highly touted free agent last summer, Johnson worked his way up the ranks with Windsor after starting primarily in a 4th line energy role. As he gained more confidence, Johnson took advantage of his new opportunities and became a fixture in the team’s top 2 lines and seeing lots of time on the special teams. Johnson is slight, but he’s a very dynamic skater which is his biggest asset. Role definition at the pro level is a bit of a question mark right now but Johnson still has good upside to justify a Top 3 round pick.
Tags: 2012 NHL Draft, 2012 nhl draft prospects, Andreas Athanasiou, Ben Johnson, Boo Nieves, Brandon Whitney, Brett Kulak, Brian Cooper, Brian Hart, Chandler Stephenson, Charles Hudon, Coda Gordon, Daniil Zharkov, Devin Shore, Dillon Fournier, Esa Lindell, Gemel Smith, Jake McCabe, Jon Gillies, Jujhar Khaira, Matt Murray, Nick Ebert, Nikita Gusev, Robbie Baillargeon, Sam Kurker, Tomas Hyka