The time is finally here. Today we’re kicking off our top 100 list of prospects eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and I hope you’re ready, because this whole week is going to be a doozy. We’ll have individual profiles for all the prospects we have rated in the first two rounds, but until then we’ve some packaged deals coming at you (not unlike what we did between 60 and 46 last year).
This Top 100 will be penned not just by me (thank God), but this year’s Draft Team of myself, Ryan Biech, Jackson McDonald, managing editor J.D. Burke, and a special guest who will show up later on.
Notes on Stats
Because this is the Nation Network, stats will, of course, be heavily incorporated (while the consolidated opinions of mainstream scouts will not be). pGPS made its debut shortly before last year’s countdown began, and this year’s will coincide with the release of the newest version of that system. Though the outputs look similar, the internal system has undergone some major changes.
I’m planning on releasing a more detailed primer on the upgrade in the coming days (or weeks?), but for now, here’s what you’ll need to know: You’ll notice that the Expected Success % is not simply equal to the proportion of statistical matches that stuck around in the NHL – rather, that metric, as well as the Expected Points/82 metric are weighted based on the similarities to their matches. While the original system took into account just age, height, and era adjusted points per game, the new version accounts for other values that have shown varying degrees of correlation with production at the NHL level, including goals, assists, goals created, point shares, team goals and points percentage, body mass index and more. Everything is age and era-adjusted where applicable, pro-rated and scaled. The final number on the far right, Expected Value, is a combination of Expected Success and Expected Production, using both the floor and ceiling to assign a definitive value against which all other prospects can be compared.
While it isn’t included in this post, it won’t be long until you see SEAL (Situational-Era-Age-League) adjusted scoring values included in these rankings as well. Developed by former Jets Nation editor Garret Hohl, now co-founder and CTO of Hockey Data Inc., SEAL has been upgraded for 2017, further accounting for variations in situational scoring and positional separation in the creation of adjustments.
Now that all that is out of the way, let’s get into the list itself.
#100: Ryan Peckford (C – WHL)
By Jackson McDonald
- Age: 18 – March 4th, 1999
- Birthplace: Stony Plain, AB, CAN
- Frame: 6’0″ / 183 lbs
Kicking off our consensus ranking at number 100 is one of the more delightfully nondescript players in this draft class, Victoria Royals forward Ryan Peckford. Peckford is a smooth-skating, defensively sound forward who played up and down the Royals’ lineup this season, making appearances at both centre and wing. He also made headlines early this season by setting a Victoria Royals franchise record for points in one game, with six.
Peckford certainly isn’t the sexiest player to come out of the WHL this season, but he does everything well. He’s a tight forechecker who’s strong along the boards, good in the circle, and has underrated offensive instincts. In short, he’s the type of player coaches love. Dave Lowry has been reticent to dole out ice-time to younger players across his four-year tenure in Victoria, but Peckford played in all situations for the Royals, including taking defensive zone starts at key moments against top competition.
In upwards of five live viewings of the Royals last season, I don’t think I ever noticed Peckford until his name appeared on the scoresheet. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it’s exactly what you want from a player in Peckford’s role.
Offensively, Peckford won’t blow you away, but he has decent hands and a sneaky playmaking ability. He scored a respectable 34 points in 45 games before an injury cut his season short. While Peckford’s mostly earned accolades for his defensive game, I believe his offensive abilities may have been underrated by scouts. His point totals aren’t going to jump out at you, but the Royals had a fairly solidified top-six group last season, and scoring .75 points-per-game while getting third-line minutes and some second-unit PP time isn’t anything to sneeze at. I’d expect a large uptick in Peckford’s point totals next season in an increased offensive role.
Draft analytics shine a favourable light on Peckford, who carries an expected success percentage of 21.5% by the prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS). Peckford’s matches averaged 39.1 points per season, and include Curtis Brown, Kyle Calder, Boyd Gordon, and Mark Stone.
#99: Tyler Inamoto (D – USNTDP)
By J.D. Burke
- Age: 18 – May 6th, 1999
- Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA
- Frame: 6’2″ / 196 lbs
A featured member on the USNTDP’s blue line, Tyler Inamoto checks off all the boxes for a stay-at-home defenceman in the mould of the good old days. He has an NHL projectable frame at 6’2″ and 196 lbs. and isn’t afraid to impose it on the opposition. Where Inamoto struggles is how liberal he is in that sense. Discipline has been a huge issue for Inamoto wherever he’s played. Learning when to reign it in will go a long way towards making the jump to the NHL.
Though I wouldn’t necessarily describe Inamoto’s skating as a strength, his size and range allow him to cover a large amount of the ice almost effortlessly. This is more apparent when Inamoto’s in the defensive zone than offensive, which again speaks to his bruising style of play.
In 17 games at the USHL level this season, Inamoto chipped in seven points (two goals and five assists), good for sixth among USNTDP defenceman. Inamoto has committed to the University of Wisconsin where he’ll join fellow USNTD blue liner, Max Gildon.
#98: Mark Kastelic (C – WHL)
By Jackson McDonald
- Age: 18 – March 11th, 1999
- Birthplace: Phoenix, AZ, USA
- Frame: 6’3″ / 205 lbs
Any discussions of Mark Kastelic’s season with the Calgary Hitmen should come with two disclaimers. First, the Hitmen struggled mightily to put the puck in the net in 2016-17, finishing 17th in goals-for out of 22 teams. Second, he played the majority of the season in Calgary’s middle-six, alongside fellow draft-eligible forward Andrei Grishakov, and rarely saw first-unit PP time.
Even with the Hitmen electing to load up their first line with veteran scoring talent, Kastelic still managed 35 points in 67 games this season. That’s a good sign, considering Kastelic’s mostly gained his notoriety doing things that can often make scouts overlook holes in a player’s offensive game.
At 6’3″ and 205 pounds, he isn’t afraid to lay the body, or throw hands. He uses his size well, especially around the net, and can play a heavy game when he needs to. While size and brawn aren’t as important as they once were, Kastelic still has the skill and skating ability to one day carve out a role as a checking centre in the NHL. For a player with Kastelic’s physical attributes, it should be taken as a good sign that he possesses excellent lateral movement, and is just as likely to skate around players as he is to try to skate through them.
Kastelic carries an expected success percentage of 13% by the prospect Graduation Probalities System (pGPS), with successful matches averaging 31.3 points a season. Some of Kastelic’s most notable matches include Jason Chimera, Lance Bouma, Brad Isbister, and Micheal Ferland.
#97: MacAuley Carson (LW – OHL)
By J.D. Burke
- Age: 18 – March 12th, 1999
- Birthplace: Midhurst, ON, CAN
- Frame: 6’1″ / 205 lbs
The Sudbury Wolves took a big step forward from last season, and second-year winger Macauley Carson played a significant role in getting there.
Back in December, OHL prospect luminary Brock Otten described Carson as, potentially, the Wolves most reliable offensive contributor. By season’s end, Otten had moved him to 32nd on his list of the best OHL draft prospects. It’s not hard to see why he’s there either.
Carson was something of a Swiss army knife for the Wolves this season. They used him in every facet and at every forward position to great effect. He has sound instincts at both ends of the ice and plays a well-rounded game that will lend itself well to making a jump to professional hockey.
The biggest problem with Carson, as is often the case with draft eligible forwards, is his skating. It’s only getting better with time, but he’s still a long ways to go before we can imagine him keeping up with the heavy pace of the NHL. That probably explains, to some extent, NHL’s Central Scouting’s rationale for not even ranking him — though it’s by no means a justification for what I consider a fairly egregious omission.
Carson has the potential to be one of the draft’s more profound market inefficiencies in the middle-to-late rounds. Only six OHL first-time draft eligible forwards score more goals than Carson, and that fact is doubly encouraging when one considers the vast majority of his goals came at even strength.
With 50 points in 68 games, Carson was third in Wolves’ scoring behind only Dimitri Sokolov and 2018 Draft eligible forward David Levin. I tend to try and avoid placing any stock in plus/minus, but there might be something to the fact that he’s one of only three Wolves skaters with a plus with a +4 rating.
#96: Jordy Bellerive (C – WHL)
By Jeremy Davis
- Age: 18 – May 2nd, 1999
- Birthplace: North Vancouver, BC, CAN
- Frame: 5’10” / 194 lbs
The younger brother of former Vancouver Giant Matt Bellerive, Jordy is set to one-up his undrafted sibling in that he’s much more likely to get his name called in June. While he stands a couple of inches short of 6-feet (depending on who you ask), Bellerive weighs in at nearly 200 pounds, giving him a stocky, sturdy build, which he throws around the ice without hesitation. The North Vancouver native demonstrates good skating ability with both his acceleration and agility, and uses this combination of factors to be a very effective and disruptive forechecker.
Bellerive’s finishing ability isn’t spectacular, but he goes hard into the crease and has shown the hands to maneuver the puck in traffic and tight spaces. He sees the ice well enough and does a good job of finding open players when he has the time, while also not waiting too long when time is limited.
Bellerive’s strengths (his agility and love of physical play) can also occasionally become detriments, as he has shown a tendency to chase players out of position, rather than staying in his spots and using angles to limit plays and break up opportunities instead. These types of issues can often be coached out of a player, but an interested team would have to be certain that Bellerive has a growth and learning mindset before assuming they can fix potential issues.
The new pGPS system has adjudged Bellerive to have a 28% chance of success, producing like a middle-six forward. Some matches with high degrees of similarity include Peter Schaefer, Tyler Ennis, Byron Ritchie and Kyle Calder – a host of middle six talent. Were he to develop into a better defensive player, he would look to have the tools to stick in an NHL bottom six in the future, with a bit of extra offensive upside.
That’s it for today, we’ll see you tomorrow for another handful of draft hopefuls.
All players’ Career Statistics are from Elite Prospects.
***Note that this article is posted Network-wide and that the comments are an open forum***